Veterans of American Legion Post 75 describe what Independence Day means to them

Published 9:45 am Tuesday, July 4, 2023

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As the fireworks and grills prepare to celebrate America’s birthday, the day means something more for local veterans.

Deborah Clark (SFC) said she has mixed feelings about the holiday.

“July 4 means a lot of things to me. I served in the army for 28, years and I would do it all over again for this country. The day is supposed to represent our freedom and America as a whole but unfortunately, we’re not. It feels as if we still have things in this country that we need to work on,” Clark said.

“July 4 is about us coming together, all races, all religions, men, women, regardless of how we feel about each other. We should all come together because this is our country and we need to take care of this country and do the right thing.”

Clark said she feels as a nation we need to sit down with one another and talk to unite as one.

“The Fourth of July is a time for celebration, but it’s a time for us to celebrate sitting down as a nation of people and talking to each other regardless of your political background or whatever is going on in your sphere of life,” Clark said.

Tony Knopp, US Navy BM3, said he feels the Fourth of July is a day to be thankful and spread good will.

“I think it’s a super day for America and everybody should be thankful to the country and God. People should be willing to help others and treat others like they want to be treated,” Knopp said. “During my time in service, I’ve met good people who were kind to me, and that’s the kind of goodness I want to spread.”

Jake Christman, staff sergeant of the US Army, said we live in the greatest county in the world.

“I wish everybody felt more pride in our county because all the veterans fought and shed their blood for our country,” Christman said. “Now, it seems like a third of the people in the United States don’t care about our country. I spent 14 years in the military and am now disabled, but I do it all over again in a heartbeat. That’s how much I love our freedom, and that’s what the Fourth of July means to me.”

Tania Griffin, post adjutant of American Legion Post 75, said as an army veteran the Fourth of July means being together with family, friends and remembering those who served along the way.

“I think of the Fourth of July as celebrating the independence of our country but also the gathering of families, getting to see one another and being around each other for a special occasion,” Griffin said. “Those that have served know that it is one more day that many will be more patriotic than other days. For a veteran, they carry that patriotism every day so it does me good to see them getting together, putting out their flags and celebrating but also spending time with families and their loved ones.”

Gary Ely, 9th District Commander of the American Legion, said the Fourth of July means something different now than it did when he was a child.

“Hot dogs and cookouts were and are great freedoms that we enjoy, but the battles this country went through to get those, and to maintain, is just mind blowing. The sacrifices that some servicemen made as well as their families are just heartbreaking,” Ely said. “The saying that “All gave some, and some gave all” rings true on the holidays where veterans and our freedoms are celebrated. So on this Fourth of July, as we celebrate I hope we never forget those that put it on the line to sustain our independence.”