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On Independence and Family Values

“Mommy, what is the Fourth of July?” Zoe asked from the back seat of the car as I was hustling to get everyone to camp on time. Precisely when I’m either somewhat distracted or otherwise engaged is the perfect and most frequent time that I get asked questions like this. Instead of coming up with a very carefully crafted and well thought out response, I answer in the most honest and simple way I can, while steering into the road using any and all traffic signals and forward thinking. “The Fourth of July is a holiday that we celebrate, sort of like Presidents’ Day or even Christmas. It’s called Independence Day and we make sure to spend time together recognizing our freedom. Did you know that there are some people in the world that aren’t allowed to do some things like we are?” I didn’t know how much she was registering or if it made sense to her, but this was a good jumping off point in the conversations surrounding this week’s holiday.

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The last few years we’ve spent the Fourth of July beachside, either on the ocean or Lake Tahoe. This year we are headed up north to the lake again and have begun to plan and pack for long days fishing for crawdads and basking on rafts in the cool water. This is one holiday that I have long treasured as time dedicated to truly celebrating our freedom and making sure to be with family, unfettered with the pressures of gifts and upholding traditions and tall tales of bearded men, bow-tied bunnies, leprechauns or cupid. We spend three to four days being deeply intertwined with extended family members, but also with plenty of strangers as well. There is a very clear and defined sense of community when you’re packed like sardines on a tiny little beach for the sole purpose of saluting our freedom together. The fanfare of this holiday is in the history of our country, the generations of men in my family who enlisted in the U.S. Army and Armed Forces to honor and uphold the many privileges that we appreciate and enjoy every day. While fighting and the politics of war aren’t things I expect my kids to really understand, they know that their grandfathers and great uncles and many cousins all donned a United States Army uniform and deployed to support our freedoms in World War I, World War II, Vietnam and the War on Terror.

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There’s a connotation to Independence Day, it’s draped in Red, White, and Blue, bears the scent of BBQ and almost always means fireworks of some sort. We have really enjoyed celebrating this holiday and what it means to us personally, what #myindependence means to our family and our country as a whole. I’m honored to have aligned with Go Army to share this story, as some of our most meaningful moments as a family have been spent in part because of the holiday that is Independence Day. The very freedoms that we celebrate have been made possible by the U.S. Army and the civil liberties that historically the Army has existed to protect. The dialogue between me and my kids is timely, necessary and poignant but also deeply steeped in family history and tradition. It doesn’t need to be contrived or scripted, but instead more of the caption line to the very real experiences we enjoy every single day. Life should be about living one’s values out loud, and I am proud to start with the very basics of our freedom and privileges afforded to us because of sacrifices made and upheld by generations before us.

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