I am seeing a troubling trend for Independence Day this year. Some people are actually complaining about the public ads and posts that thank veterans and honor the military on the 4th of July. Now, I am well aware that the 4th of July is neither Veteran’s Day nor Memorial Day, and I don’t think anyone in the military is asking for it to be treated that way.
Are there already “too many military holidays” on the national calendar? No. I think not. Honestly, I think we could honor those in military service every single month, and it still wouldn’t equal or repay the services they have done for their country. But that’s not the point. The point is that it is completely appropriate and acceptable to honor the American military on July 4th. And here’s why.
- Fact: we have Independence from Great Britain because we used the military. While technically the Declaration of Independence signed on July 4th was not a declaration of war, it was the document that led to the Revolutionary War. The Marine Corps had been formed 7 months earlier in anticipation of a war. The document itself says that America will consider Great Britain “Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.” The representatives to the First Continental Congress had different opinions about whether or not we should go to war, or how we should protect our freedom. But ultimately, those who signed the document knew what it would mean and how it would be received in England. So they prepared for war, and invited General George Washington to form a militia.
Today, we still have our independence in part because of our military power and our diplomatic efforts with other nations. It is because our service members practice with friendly nations and unite against common causes that we have allies in this world at all. It is because the military engages terrorists in their own host nations that we don’t have more victims on our own soil. So regardless of how you feel about the American military fighting in different parts of the world, it is still appropriate to show respect to those citizens who volunteer to fight, in order to protect American freedom.
- Honoring military does not mean there is no room for anyone else. Some people believe that there is too much focus on thanking the military on the 4th of July, and point out that there is more than one way to protect civil liberties. Yes, I agree that many people preserve our freedoms in this country: teachers protect our right to learn and think, religious leaders and church organizations protect our religious freedom, firefighters and police officers preserve the safety and security of all citizens. And I find it interesting that most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were not connected to the military. Most were farmers, lawyers, or doctors. Some were writers and newspaper owners. They were thinkers, and it is their ability to think and reason that gave us the liberties we enjoy today.
So let’s think this out: does honoring the military detract in any way from other noble services? Does saying “Thank you, veterans” or “Remember those who bled for your freedom” somehow diminish the work of firefighters and emergency room workers? I don’t think so. I think there is room to honor everyone. Many towns hold parades on Independence Day, and those parades are a perfect place to display and honor any civil leaders in that town. If there happens to be a military veteran, great, it is completely appropriate to include him or her. But that is no reason others can’t be included too.
- Other civil servants do not make the same sacrifices as active duty military. Some people want to silence the praise of military service on Independence Day because they just don’t value the military. As a military spouse, I get frustrated when I hear small interest groups chiming in that their work and sacrifices are just as important as military service. Yes, civil lawyers are important. Yes, church volunteers are important. Yes, teachers are important. No one is denying that. I certainly don’t want to get rid of any of those career fields.
But for those who want to hear less about the military, can anyone really equate civil services to the sacrifices of military personnel fighting overseas? We have an all-volunteer military service, which is only 1% of our population. Everyone in service now volunteered and vowed an oath to put their life on the line “to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies.” Service members deploy overseas for months, or even a year at a time. They risk being wounded, damaged, or killed in service. Meanwhile, their families members make countless sacrifices to support the service member. I don’t know of any other career field who vows to defend the Constitution, and who is willing to do so at the cost of their life. The Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence by pledging “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor.” It is our military that continues to make that pledge. So on this holiday that celebrates our independence from a foreign power, it is completely appropriate to honor the military members who have volunteered to accept that responsibility.
- Military members love this holiday, not because they love to fight, but because they love their country. To anyone in the military, the 4th of July is not at all like Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day. Those are somber occasions to reflect on those they have served with, or those they have lost. The 4th of July celebrates why veterans serve! Independence Day celebrates America–its history, its origin, its founders.
We can all agree that America is not a perfect country, but on this day the military can look around and say, “Yes, this is worth it. This is something worth fighting for.” So the military is not asking to be honored on this day. They do not expect free meals or discounts or “thank you” banners. They simply ask that you continue to honor and respect the country they fight to defend. Veterans are proud of America, and they love its flag.
You, too, can show respect for our great nation. Honor the fact that America is something worth preserving. The military has an important role–perhaps THE most important role–in preserving America from all enemies. Show them that you are grateful for the country, and they will feel honored to continue fighting for it.