Growing up the Fourth of July always held a special place in my heart. I'll be honest, I'm not the most nationalistic or patriotic person, especially the more I learn about US history and the things that we have done to other nations. So often we overlook the things that our nation has taken part in, and we get overly nationalistic (Hey there Texans), and we don't really learn about the real history of our nation. That being said, I still feel very close to my country and feel like celebrating our nation is an important thing. Patriotism is still an important thing when it comes to US history. We have to pull together when times get tough.
My dad was in the US Air Force when I was born and that had a lasting impact on me. I was born on F.E. Warren AFB in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and my dad spent the first year of my life overseas stationed in Italy (no I didn't get to go). He chose to get out when I was still fairly young and I think his Honorable Discharge happened in September of 2000 when I was 6 years old. This experience really impacted how I view the USA and the connection that I find with the Fourth of July celebrations.
Last year, the Fourth was hard. Last June my younger brother joined the US Air Force and over the weekend of the Fourth of July, he was going through Basic Military Training (BMT). We all anxiously waited for a phone call (but not being about waiting in line, he chose other things to celebrate his free time). It was hard because my brother is one of my best friends. Celebrating his duty and sacrifice with him so far away was hard. When my dad was in the USAF, it didn't really impact me because I was so young but my brother's dedication has really shaped how I view our nation.
Joining the USAF has been the best decision that my brother has made so far and as I celebrate the Fourth of July this year it will be extra special because although he is stationed overseas in England right now, I know that I will be able to speak with him. I'll be able to celebrate our nation while engaging and talking to him. It's a different experience than being totally cut off like during BMT.
Not only are my dad and brother both veterans, both of my mom's brothers and a cousin of mine are as well. We're a Marine and Air Force family and I'm proud to be a part of it. I've always held a special place in my heart for veterans and service people and celebrating the Fourth of July has become a somewhat emotional experience. Thinking of the decisions that these family members have made really hits me when they start playing the music as the fireworks go off in the background.
So for now, Happy Fourth. Stay safe and remember those who are out there serving and protecting our nation and our allies. Remember the history behind the day and enjoy!