While Edmond residents are going to the LibertyFest Independence Day parade, eating barbecue or watching the fireworks display, Americans will be defending our freedoms around the world.
As of May 31 there were a total of 1,400,852 men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Services — 516,753 in the Army, 323,309 in the Navy, 191,208 in the Marine Corps, 329,120 in the Air Force and 40,462 in the Coast Guard, according to the Department of Defense.
They are stationed in Europe, nations that were part of the former Soviet Union, East Asia and the Pacific, North Africa, the Near East and South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the Western Hemisphere.
They are stationed in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Korea, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine, according to the Defense Manpower Data Center.
Oklahoma’s military installations — Altus Air Force Base, Fort Sill, the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, Tinker AFB and Vance AFB — train the nation’s warriors and manufacture and repair the material used to equip men and women in uniform.
Many Americans take time on Independence Day, a federal holiday that celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, to honor military personnel in some form or fashion. The following suggestions come from the website “Do Something” — www.dosomething.org:
• Bring flowers to a soldiers’ cemetery;
• “Adopt” a soldier you know. If you know someone shipping out or currently deployed, get a group together and stick to a schedule of keeping constant contact with him or her;
• Donate DVDs or CDs to soldiers abroad. Everyone just needs some entertainment to help them chill;
• Host a potluck to honor veterans and service members. Invite troops to the event and organize which civilian guests will bring which dish;
• Get your musical group to perform at a local veterans hospital;
• Collect thank you messages for the troops and display them at a public event. You could use a projector to show the messages at a football game, after a religious service, during a school assembly, etc.;
• Create a memorial for fallen troops that everyone in your community can view (Edmond has a World War II memorial statue at Russell Dougherty Elementary School);
• Lead a presentation for younger grades in your school. Present facts about PTSD and other veterans issues that your audience can help address;
• Start a blog where soldiers can send testimonies and experiences for your online audience to read; and
• If you’re still set on mailing letters, include something extra — stuff in current feel-good news articles, magazine clippings or maybe even paper planes.
Another simple way to honor our military personnel is to shake a soldier’s hand and say, “Thank you.” The Edmond Sun appreciates the service of our veterans and of all our active personnel at home or abroad. Thank you for protecting our freedoms.
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