On July 4th this year, we celebrate the 236th anniversary of our independence as a country. And this one will be special to me. Oh, it might have a picnic, friends, good food and fireworks (only on TV) built into it; but this year independence came with a new price tag.
On June 5th, I said goodbye to my son, Taylor, as I watched him board a bus and head off to the United States Marine Corp boot camp in San Diego. It was one of the proudest and saddest days of my life. I said “goodbye” to a boy and I’ll say “hello” to a man in thirteen weeks.
My father was 82nd Airborne in the United States Army. I wear his dog tags proudly every minute of every day around my neck (except when I took this picture of them on 9/11/11). The sound of them around my neck reminds me of him; but it also reminds me of the price paid by so many; just so I could be free.
I was raised with a deep-seeded sense of patriotism. I stand at attention when the Star Spangled Banner is played and I put my hand over my heart when the Pledge of Allegiance is recited. I do so because my father taught me to do so. God help us to pass that on to each generation. The flag is more important than ever because my son is one “of the brave” and chose to defend the principles “for which it stands.” I may not agree with the present leadership or the direction of this country; but there is no other place in the world that I would want to live.
I want to take the opportunity to say “thank you” to every soldier, past and present, who has served our country in defense of that independence. I’d also like to express my gratitude to every family member – especially each father and mother – who has sacrificed their child to go and serve in the armed forces. I now understand that sacrifice! And if your child is deployed in another land then I admire your strength of getting through every day. I’m not sure how you do it; but “thank you”.
It is the sacrifice of the few that provides Independence Day to us every day of our lives.
Semper Fi, United States Marine Recruit Christopher Taylor Johnson. Your father loves you!