Celebrate democracy, remember patriots this Fourth of July

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- "Thus may the 4th of July, that glorious and ever memorable day, be celebrated through America, by the sons of freedom, from age to age till time shall be no more."

That quote appeared in the Virginia Gazette July 18, 1777, following one of the largest and most elaborate celebrations on the first anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America.

The huge event held in Philadelphia featured all of the elements we typically see today on July 4 -- food, fireworks and the flying of our nation's colors.

Those elements were paired with elaborate military displays to include armed ships decorated in patriotic banners, the discharge of cannons and troop formations.

While the participants celebrated the birth of democracy, they also commemorated the memories of those patriots who had bravely fought for, and on occasions given their lives in defense of, freedom.

This Independence Day, be sure to enjoy the barbeques and firework displays with your family and friends, but also take a moment to remember, just as our forefathers did, those who have and still are fighting for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Patriots know no generation or century; they exist today just as they did in 1776 when the second continental congress declared that the original thirteen colonies were independent of the Kingdom of Great Britain.

As military members, you are the embodiment of the freedoms America's sons and daughters have fought and died for.

Your sacrifices and dedication to duty are reflected in every July 4 celebration.

Next week is more than just a holiday ... it's a celebration of what makes our nation great.

Be safe, have fun and proudly display the old red, white and blue. Hooah!