Remembering those who served

Col. Robert C. Kane
86th Airlift Wing Commander

***image1***The Fourth of July means summer is officially here. It includes fireworks, picnics, sports and celebrations with family and friends.
The 4th also has deep meaning and patriotism: this year, when you “OOOO and AAHHHH” to the bright bursts of color that explode in the sky, take the time to reflect on what happened this day 228 years ago that makes it worth celebrating.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
July Fourth celebrates the day in 1776 that 56 members of the Continental Congress signed their names to this Declaration of Indepen-dence, risking all that they had for freedom from the tyranny of the British government. Their words rang out across the 13 colonies and still resonate around the globe calling for freedom and individual rights.
So what happened to those brave signers during the six-year struggle for independence? Five were captured by the British and brutally tortured, nine fought in the war for independence and were killed in battle, two lost their sons, another two saw their sons captured, and at least 12 of the 56 had their homes pillaged and burned. They understood just how precious freedom is and paid an incredible price to earn this privilege for those of us blessed enough to call ourselves Americans.
Time and time again, brave Americans have likewise laid their lives on the line in selfless sacrifice for the cause of freedom. Most recently our brave veterans were honored for their role in freeing Europe from a ruthless dictator with the 60th anniversary of D-Day. Following WWII, as a nation we stood up to the Soviet Union, forcing the walls to crumble and freeing millions from a totalitarian regime. And all of you reading this know that the struggle for individual freedoms continues in Afghanistan, Iraq, and many other nations. On a daily basis the great men and women of the 86th answer the call of the nation, standing up for all that is right under some extremely difficult conditions. I couldn’t be more proud of all you do everyday.
As you stare skyward and admire the show, remember our brothers and sisters in arms who stand in harms way so that others may enjoy some of the freedoms that we are blessed to be able to exercise on a daily basis. Take care of yourselves and each other and God bless you and your families as you go about the business of protecting freedom.