By Sen. Roger L. Thompson
Thompson Roger 1Over the years, I have spoken at a number of events where veterans are present. Many of these events are on Memorial or Veterans Day. The same has also been observed at parades many times over. When a veteran sees the U.S. Flag approaching, it doesn't matter how old or sick they may be, they will use every ounce of strength remaining in their bodies to stand at attention. When this happens, you can look into their eyes and see a story. Many times it is an unwritten and unspoken story. But it is a story of watching their friends die on a battle field fighting for America. It is a story of helping the wounded back to camp where they could receive medical treatment. It is a story of lost limbs, eyesight or hearing. It is a story that is dear to their hearts. So when they see the flag, it is more than just a piece of cloth, it is the banner they fought under for freedom and independence for all Americans. Their eyes tell the story.
Yesterday, Americans celebrated the July 4th holiday. The roots run back to the Continental Congress voting in favor of independence on July 2, 1776. Two days later the Declaration of Independence was adopted. For over 240 years, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence. In 1941, it was declared a federal holiday. Certainly, it is good to be with our family and friends and enjoy various outings, lake activities and cookouts. And, at the close of day, a huge firework show is awesome.
Independence. What a sweet and cherished word. We are free to own vehicles and travel where we wish. We are free to worship or not to worship. We are free to express our opinions. We are free to elect our leaders. We are free to live without unreasonable search and seizure. We are free. Our ancestors remind us that with each generation we lose a little more freedom. However, America is still the greatest country in the world because of our freedom.
I return to the eyes of the veterans. They tell a story of the cost of freedom. While we are the land of the free, we are also the home of the brave. This week and every week, we should stand when the flag passes, for many have died so the flag that represents America can fly freely. This week and every week, we should honor our veterans and never forget they are the reason we celebrate the nation's birthday every year. They are the men and women who are filled with unwritten and unspoken stories that are too unbearable to repeat. Today, we salute the brave men and women who fought so we could celebrate one more birthday for America.