Independence Day Memory
By Pvt. Kelly Welch
1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
FORT HOOD, Texas – The crowd is hushed, the children have stopped
cheering, people stare as if mesmerized at the street in front of them.
The only sounds are those of the Soldiers marching down the street to
the strains of the Star Spangled Banner being played by the local high
This is my childhood Independence Day memory. Veterans from World War
II, Korea and Vietnam marched down the street. It was the proudest
moment of our little town. Every man, woman and child stopped whatever
they were doing and pressed their hands over their hearts.
My parents and grandparents understood the sacrifices these men made,
but not so for us children. All we knew was that these men had survived
something that was greater than we could understand. We knew war meant
fighting but we were too young to know what it really meant in the life
of a Soldier.
We watched old, weathered men march slowly down the street. Some stood
proud and some were stooped with age, but no one laughed or made a
sound. They would stop marching and someone would raise the flag, and
eyes would shine with tears as the old Soldiers would raise their hands
to salute. There was never a prouder moment for us or them.
I stood watching them and my grandpa too. He had the same look on his
face that the veterans had on theirs. It was a look of pride and
anguish. I asked him once why he looked so happy and so sad all at the
same time when the veterans marched down the street.
“Because, I made it and so did my friends,” he said. “But some didn’t.”
At the time I didn’t know what it meant when he said they didn’t make it, and I thought it might not be a good idea to ask.
I’m an adult now and a Soldier myself. I’m the only one of my siblings
to join the military service. I see those same veterans now and I know
what it means. I know what it means to them when they march down the
street, I know what it means when they salute the flag, and I know what
my grandpa meant when some made it and some didn’t.
For more than 200 years we have celebrated the birth of this country,
and on certain holiday’s we celebrate Soldiers, but on Independence day
we celebrate the birth of our nation, the Soldiers those who fought for
that birth, and the flag that represents this country.
So when Independence Day comes around this year, remember that the
United States was founded on the shoulders of the men and women who
marched onto the battlefield before they retired and marched down the
route of a parade.
Don’t forget them in your holiday celebration. Say a thank you to those
men and women who fought and died so that you could stand with your
children while they enjoy watching a parade.