Our nation recently celebrated Independence Day, a time for both celebration and reflection.
On this day, we should celebrate the vast freedoms we enjoy while at the same time remember the reasons we are a free nation by paying tribute to those who paved the way for us.
In the early years of our nation, men and women armed themselves with muskets and canister shot to win a society free from tyranny. Today we use smart weapons, stealth aircraft, unmanned aircraft systems, broadband satellite communications and many other tools to accomplish this same goal.
For more than a century, the U.S. Air Force has defended this country in the air, space and cyberspace through the skill and the bravery of American Airmen.
Our Airmen are on guard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year to protect America’s rights, liberty and way of life. Our Airmen are as much a fabric of our independence today as were the great generations who preceded them.
For nearly 70 years, Reserve Citizen Airmen have been the cornerstone of the successful defense of our nation by providing combat-ready forces to meet the needs of combatant commanders.
No other nation is so widely diverse, yet so unified, as America; her Air Force is equally diverse and unified. The future of our nation is bright thanks to our nation’s sword and shield provided by the military and our Airmen.
While reflecting on our heritage and how our Airmen have selflessly and courageously fought in conflicts around the globe, the historical roots of the holiday are layered with facts that shed light on the complexities of establishing a new country.
Below are some facts about the holiday that are insightful and add depth to the reflective aspect of this holiday.
• John Adams believed July 2nd was the correct date to celebrate the birth of American independence and reportedly would turn down invitations to appear at Fourth of July events in protest. (The Declaration of Independence was approved July 2, 1776; however, it was not completed and printed until two days later.
• John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died hours apart July 4, 1826 — the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. James Monroe died July 4, 1831.
• Delaware was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution Dec. 7, 1787.
• The Liberty Bell did not ring for the first time July 4, 1776. She rang out for the first time July 8, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was read to the public for the first time.
• Through the years, celebrations have included picnics, parties, parades, concerts, artillery salutes and fireworks. Eventually the artillery salutes fell out of favor as cannons became less available.
• Although a federal holiday since 1870, federal employees were not granted a paid holiday until 1941.
• The Fourth of July is one of four holidays celebrated on the same dates each year — the others are Veterans Day, Christmas and New Year’s.
The Fourth of July holiday is indeed an important day to celebrate our nation’s proud history of defending freedom and being a beacon of hope for the world for 241 years. It is also an opportunity to recognize the important role each Air Force and Army organization at Joint Base Lewis-McChord plays in our national defense.
We are an innovative and unstoppable force ready anytime, anywhere, any day. Thank you for all you do!