The Meaning of Independence Day

July 4th should conjure up feelings of liberty, freedom, and patriotism.  From Revolutionary times to the present, it is a celebration of the birth of the United States of America.  No one knows this better than those who have served and are serving in the U.S. armed forces.  American Thinker asked a few who are associated with the armed services what this holiday means to them and would also like to hear reader's comments as well.

The late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who wrote American Sniper and American Gun, once told American Thinker how much he loves this country.  "We all should be reminded that freedom is not free.  The red in the flag is for the blood of those who died defending this country.  We signed up because we love this country.  We will honor it, serve it, and write a blank check up to our life to guarantee all the freedoms back home."  His wife Taya noted that that is why he included the Revolutionary War sniper Sergeant Murphy in his latest book.  He wanted to show how the attitude of American freedom fighters has not changed through the times.  In fact, he is a distant relative to Sam Houston, Sr., and he felt that it was "awesome" to be related to a Revolutionary War sniper and hero.  Taya, who is carrying on his legacy, stresses the importance that "the next generation understands what our holidays represent.  There are those who stood up for the values that keep America great, sometimes sacrificing personally.  It is not just another holiday from work, but a celebration of those who have gone before us to ensure our freedoms.  On July 4th, one of Chris's favorite holidays, Americans should remember the origin and the meaning and not get caught up in the festivities."

Verenice Castillo, the 2013 Air Force military spouse of the year, whose husband is a squadron commander, was one of those who, in her younger years, thought that "the Fourth of July was all about gathering with family and friends, barbecues, parades, and fireworks.  But now it is much more than that: I celebrate the true meaning of this glorious day.  It is with gratitude, honor, and respect that I celebrate our independence.  I am thankful for being an American and have the liberty to make my own decisions, thankful for the men and women in uniform that fought, and those that are now fighting for our freedom.  I honor those who do not just fight to protect us, but those who paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting for us, and respect all military families that deal with challenges and sacrifices on a daily basis.  To me, the Fourth of July is more than a day of celebration and remembrance; it is another opportunity to say thank you and be thankful for our freedom."

Kathy Stainaker, whose husband was emotionally injured in the Fort Hood shootings, and Shawn Manning, who was shot six times, think of this holiday as being very special.  Kathy's husband and Shawn would like to celebrate as any other American but cannot because loud noises, especially fireworks, bring back the dark memories.  They want Americans to think about the soldiers who gave their lives so others can celebrate this holiday, including those who lost their lives at Fort Hood.

Angela, whose husband is a lieutenant colonel, enjoys raising her children on an army base.  She believes that those children who grow up this way become very patriotic since they are taught, unlike in many public schools, the traditions, which include standing at attention when the flag is raised and lowered, as well as having the National Anthem played before any event, including watching a movie.  Tawana, who served and whose husband is a Navy officer, agrees and is really bothered that people do not show respect for this nation by standing at attention for the National Anthem. 

Samantha, whose husband is an active-duty Marine, has to constantly explain to her children that those in the civilian world do not have the custom of having the National Anthem played before any and every event.  She told American Thinker that unfortunately, "the younger generation when viewing a movie would think it is a joke to stand up and sing the National Anthem.  Sadly, I think people would probably consider it a hassle or view it as having patriotism shoved down their throat."

Sydney Williams, who is a writer for, is proud of his heritage, since he has ancestors that date back to Mayflower times.  He noted that anyone in his early seventies and had all four of his grandparents born in the USA have about a 99% chance of having an ancestor who came over in the Mayflower.  He is hoping that on this holiday, not only those who are related to patriots of the past, but everyone will remember the story of the Founding Fathers. 

Americans should remember as they celebrate July 4th that it is also called Independence Day for a reason.  It should not be lost during the barbecues, fireworks celebrations, concerts, and parades that this holiday was established to reflect on the meaning of freedom and personal rights. 

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.