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Saturday, July 4, 2009

God Bless the U.S.A.! The Meaning of Freedom

I grew up in a small town, located just across Lake Belton from Fort Hood, Texas. I remember, vividly, the sounds of war echoing through our home, as I lay in bed each night. The canons' thunderous 'booms' would rattle our windows and resonate throughout our home, as soldiers 'in the field' had prepared for potential war. Still, I did not know how powerful freedom could be.

I will never forget the deep lines on his brow, his piercing blue eyes, his leg dangling lifelessly over the seat of his wheelchair, his other leg . . . gone. I sat with him for hours, listening to his words explain the perils of war; the suffering; the heartache.

He was on the USS California during the attack on Pearl Harbor. In a total of 90 minutes, 2,386 American had died, and another 1,139 were wounded. In his words, "I was one of the lucky ones. The horrific memories of the devastation, though, will forever haunt me."

I will never forget the line of coffins, draped in our Nation's flag.
I will never forget holding her frame as she sobbed on my shoulder.
I will never forget wiping away their childrens' tears, knowing they would never see their Daddy again.

Never forget!

Most people do not know the meaning behind the traditional practices of a military funeral, so I would like to share the following with you:

The 21-gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776.

The honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the United States of America's Flag 13 times. This practice is symbolic, and each fold is represented below:

  • The 1st fold of the flag is a symbol of life.
  • The 2nd fold is a symbol of the belief in eternal life.
  • The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing

the ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of the country
to attain peace throughout the world.

  • The 4th fold represents the weaker nature, for as American citizens

trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time
of war for His divine guidance.

  • The 5th fold is a tribute to the country, for in the words of Stephen

Decatur, “Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be
right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

  • The 6th fold is for where people’s hearts lie. It is with their heart

that they pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America,
and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible,
with Liberty and Justice for all.

  • The 7th fold is a tribute to its Armed Forces, for it is through the

Armed Forces that they protect their country and their flag against all
her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of
their republic.

  • The 8th fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the

shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.

  • The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and Mothers. For it has been

through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character
of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

  • The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons
and daughters for the defense of their country since they were first born.
  • The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and

King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac
and Jacob.

  • The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the

Christians eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.

  • The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are

uppermost reminding them of their nations motto, “In God We Trust.”

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and
shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for them the rights, privileges and freedoms they enjoy today.

Millions of American men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedoms. As you are celebrating this Independence Day, please remember those who have lost their lives protecting your life and your freedom.

Honor them tonight. Honor their mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives, daughters and sons.

When you see those valiant Stars and Stripes waving boldly above you, show your gratitude to those who have laid down their lives for you.

When you see a man or woman in uniform, shake their hand and let them know how much you appreciate the sacrifices they have made for you. You will never meet a person who deserves your honor, respect, and appreciation more than our soldiers!

As a military wife, I know (all too well) the sacrifices these soldiers have made. I simply cannot pass by a man or woman boldly displaying their uniform without breaking down in tears for all they have done for my family and me.


Holly @ Domestic Dork July 4, 2009 at 11:32 PM  

Thanks for the comment and follow! And Happy Independence Day! :D

Anonymous,  July 4, 2009 at 11:46 PM  

What a great tribute to the men and women who have served in the armed forces.

My father was stationed at Fort Hood.

MamabearMills July 5, 2009 at 12:41 AM  

Thanks for your kind words!!! Your post was great!

Maricel July 5, 2009 at 4:01 AM  

As a fellow Mom Bloggers Club member, I'm following via the Follow Me Club list. =) I have also followed your twitter.

Maricel --- Momhood Moments

I'm currently building my blogroll too. Care for a link exchange?

Maria July 5, 2009 at 10:46 AM  

I am a little late for Fourth of July Greetings, but came your way from reading your comments on Johnabuzz.

I am presently married to a retired Navy Commander and was the wife of a Marine Sergeant also career military. I was widowed in 1996 and remaried in 2001.

The McCurry Project July 5, 2009 at 12:14 PM  

I saw your comment on Supermom's blog. I really enjoyed your post on independence day. My dad was an EOD in the army. I dread the sound of the military funeral. It's out of respece but it makes me sick to my stomach.

Lorie Shewbridge July 5, 2009 at 5:39 PM  

What a beautiful tribute. Thank you for reminding everyone that freedom is never free.

My son joined the Army Reserves soon out of High School, making me extremely proud. He will be deployed to Afghanistan in the Fall and I am grateful to all Americans who truly appreciate the sacrafice of our American military.

God bless you and your family.

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages July 6, 2009 at 11:59 PM  

I was a military wife from the age of 17 years old and for 20 years it was all I knew. It is hard to all the heartbreak, fear come back to me. And pride. And pride!!

Krissy Lynnae July 8, 2009 at 10:25 PM  

That was an awesome tribute! As a military wife, I had tears welling. I stopped by your blog to also thank you for commenting on my Wordless Wendsday. Have a great week!

KLM July 11, 2009 at 3:38 PM  

This was a very powerful post. We just finished a deployment, with some funerals and memorial services. Your post gave me goosebumps big time. Thank you for writing this all down, including pics, too.

Mom's Fortress of Solitude July 11, 2009 at 4:02 PM  

@ Chaotic Mom:

Thank you for commenting. I read your blog and wanted to comment there, but didn't see the 'comment'link.

Are you still at Ft. Hood?

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Angela McCoy is a freelance writer/editor, military wife and work at home mom (WAHM) to four boys with special needs. Her writing encompasses a myriad of topics -- Autism, ADHD, Auditory Processing Disorder, Cystinosis, Fanconi's Syndrome, kidney transplant, and more -- influenced by her two teenagers and seven-year-old twins. She considers writing to be therapeutic and utilizes her skills to counsel and inspire her readers. Angela is a quick-witted, 'no holds barred,' tell it like it is' humorist who has learned that laughter truly is the best antidote to life's adversities.

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