by Michael Edwards
Around the world, many of our armed services members will enjoy barbecue, games, and music at ceremonies from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to Kandahar Airfield. The Fourth of July, which has become synonymous with picnics, parades, patriotic songs, and fireworks, was declared a federal holiday in 1941, but historically, it goes back as far as 1776, when the American Colonies declared independence from Great Britain.
This year, we enjoy all the festivities and traditions of the holiday, but we also remember the sacrifices of those who have gone before us and of those who are now serving so that we may enjoy our freedom. Friends and members of Officers’ Christian Fellowship thank you for your service in the ongoing battle to preserve freedom for the citizens of our great nation!
But in the midst of our celebrations, remember that for many throughout the world, it’s not business as usual.
Many men and women continue in the fight in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and in assignments worldwide. Here in Colorado it’s definitely not business as usual during this beloved national holiday. Along Colorado’s Front Range wildfires have forced more than 30,000 people to stay in motels, with family and friends, or in evacuation centers from Fort Carson to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Hundreds more have lost their homes. Many more are waiting word on whether their houses and possessions have been spared.
Watching the firestorm in Colorado Springs on television left me speechless, and I can still smell smoke from the Waldo Canyon Fire here at the OCF home office just south of Denver. Thousands of firefighters, policemen, military service men and women, and other emergency responders are working tirelessly to save homes, businesses, and lives. Please pray for these courageous men and women, and for all those who have lost loved ones or their homes.
If you have the opportunity, enjoy Fourth of July celebrations with your friends and family. Find a parade in your town. Fly the American flag. Sing the National Anthem. Enjoy ice cream and ice-cold watermelon. Honor the memory of those who served us by enjoying the freedom for which they fought so hard and paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Take time to reflect on your heritage as an American. Thank God for your freedom, and express your appreciation to our service men and women and their families. I will call my father, who along with his two brothers served in World War II. I will remember my grandfather and my four great uncles, who all served simultaneously in World War I. And I will honor my friends in OCF, many of whom are serving onboard ships, aircraft, bases, and remote outposts.
Whether you are reading this in Germany, Italy, New York, Fort Bragg, Pensacola, Kandahar, Alaska, Fort Lewis, a remote installation in the Aleutian Islands, or a thousand other duty stations, I SALUTE YOU! You are not alone and you are not forgotten. All across our great land, Americans are flying the flag proudly in your honor.
May God be with you, and thank you for your service.