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Saturday, July 5, 2008

More than just a Holiday...

We celebrate Independence Day on July 4 because that was the day the Continental Congress adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence. It is the day that the Thirteen colonies declared that they were "Free and Independent States... Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown…" at least that is what we are taught in school.

However, between the BBQ’s, the beer and the fireworks, how many of us actually take the time to stop and think about what that freedom means?

I have to admit, like most people around this holiday, I spend very little time thinking about freedom and independence, and more time being grateful I have an extra day off work. But this year has been different; Last week a coworker of mine received the sad news that his son was killed in Afghanistan. Sergeant Ryan Connolly was only 24 when his convoy hit a plastic explosive buried in the road. Ryan had only two weeks left on his one-year deployment when he was killed.

Ryan was a well-respected soldier and had recently been promoted to the rank of sergeant. He was a paratrooper and medic and served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. But Ryan wasn’t just a soldier; he was a husband, a son, and the father of 1-year-old Kayla Connolly.

With well over 4,000 deaths in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, I wonder how many of us understood the degree of sacrifices our soldiers would make when these wars began? But when a loss such as Ryan’s is suffered so close to home, it tends to bring realities and horrors of war right to your door.

I have never believed in this war, but I have always supported our soldiers. I support them because soldiers like Ryan Connolly believe in their country and believe that they are fighting for our freedom. So whether or not you support the wars in the Middle East, try to take a few minutes this holiday weekend to think about those who have given their lives in the name of our Freedom.

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