The 4th of July, our country’s birthday, is a day that everyone in our country knows about. What does it mean to you? Is it just another holiday? Is it just another day?
For our family, the 4th of July (along with a few other important holidays) are very special and mean a lot to us. We, of course, know the historical significance of this day and teach it to our children, but to our family (and most military families) this day is not just about BBQ’s, fireworks and a day off. This day represents everything that our soldiers and their families (and friends) have sacrificed for. Past, present and future.
In the almost 12 years that my husband and I have been married, our 4th of July has not always been an easy day to get through. Deployments, TDYs, and living overseas all bring a new outlook to this day. In our time as a military family, our travels have taken us to England. Our first 4th of July spent in the very country that we fought for our independence from was, well surreal. The area bases put together a carnival sort of event. Rides, games, food booths, and more. Locals were invited to attend as well. To most of them, it was just a cool event on a local military base. To us, it was a day we would never forget. Nothing especially crazy happened. It was just another of many “firsts” that we would experience as a military family.
Our son was not even 2 years old when we celebrated our first 4th of July in England, and until about a year ago, the reason that day was so surreal to us made no sense to him at all. July 2010, my husband had gotten home from a deployment on Memorial Day weekend. We were telling one of our friends about our first 4th of July in England and how crazy it felt to celebrate our independence there.
Our son, going into 4th grade that fall, wanted to know why it was such a big deal. My husband and I both stared at him with disbelief. We started asking him questions about what the 4th of July celebrated, what was significant about this day in history and he had no idea. We asked about anything history, social studies, and even geograph- related that he learned at school and realized that he was in 4th grade and he had never been taught anything about our country’s independence! So he got his first lesson right there, that very moment.
It completely blew my mind, that my son, a military “brat” had no clue why his father did what he did. He had no idea what his father (and so many of our friends) had sacrificed in order to help our country (and others) to be free! That moment just added to the many reasons we chose to do school at home. Even with using the K12 curriculum, it was easy to supplement the history assignments to make sure our son learned about our nation’s history. I am not trying to say that our government has always made the best choices, but it is still our history and he still needs to understand it. Since that 4th of July in 2010, we make sure to talk about our time in England, his father’s deployments and TDYs, and why those events are important to our family. They may not mean much to anyone else, but they are part of our history and those experiences have shaped us into the people we are today.
I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July. There are so many ways to celebrate our great nation all year long. Please remember our military and their families for a few minutes today. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have the freedoms we enjoy so much and that make our country so great.