Friday, July 3, 2009

4th of July

The Fourth of July has forever been a holiday that has remained special. In earlier years much of this was due to the fact that it meant fireworks, picnics, and pure summer fun. Running around the streets of the small town of Carmen, Oklahoma where I grew up, chasing one another with bottle rockets and roman candles. Never realizing the harm that we could possibly do to ourselves. Nursing burnt feet from still hot metal sparklers that we were unable to see in the dark as we danced around the yard in delight. It was so simple then.

A couple years ago, I started something that was somewhat of a tradition. I was writing an entry for a blog other than mine. I wanted to make it more meaningful and not forget the men and women who were giving so much for us at the time. In research for information on the fallen of the current war in Iraq I was struck by the number of causalities and loss. Not only was the number shocking to me, but the pictures also made the reality of it all the more real. I decided then that each year I would return to pay homage to those who have given so much for the right of our freedom.

As I navigated to The Washington Post Site: Faces of the Fallen, I was struck by the total number of fatalities. 4304 soldiers in Iraq and 710 soldiers in Afghanistan making the total number 5014 as of 6-28-09. A staggering number considering the number of family and friends affected. I pulled up the latest to die and found Pvt. Steven Drees. A young man of Peshitgo, Wisconsin, who joined the Army straight out of High School and was deployed to Afghanistan last month on his 19th birthday.

Steven died when he was shot in the head during an ambush in Konar Province when insurgents attacked his unit with small-fire and a rocket propelled grenade launcher, this told per the Department of Defense.

The list and pictures are endless. Fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, friends, lovers, and so forth. So much given... so much lost. It is important to remember these men and women on this coming 4th of July. To remember that the Independence that we celebrate is much more than just the parades and firework shows. The family gatherings that will take place, yet there will be those who will not be able to attend as they are "busy". Take a moment this weekend as you gather with friends and family to remember those whose fireworks will be the grenades and rocket launchers they see not only on the 4th, but on a common daily basis.

Take the time to go to and quietly pay homage to those who have given us the right to celebrate this weekend as we do. Keeping in mind that their sacrifice is a daily event. The number does not stop when July 4th passes.

Although it will remain my tradition for the 4th, a more frequent visitation I think is needed.
Wishing you all a safe holiday weekend.

Content Copyright 2009 - Janie Sheik - All rights reserved

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