The anticipation in the days leading up to the 4th of July are some of the worst days of the year. Key word, "some". The overwhelming sight of firecrackers being sold on street corners, signs being hung, American flags waving proudly in the air, people showing patriotism one of the few times a year, and just the thoughts of chaos and excitement this time of the year brings.
To many, genuine excitement is felt and expressed. Ten years ago, I found myself full of excitement on this upcoming holiday. Today, not so much. I find myself wondering if people realize the meaning behind Independence Day and the reason we are all free...the battles that have been fought to insure our independence as Americans.
Before the Army became our lives, we use to all cook out with my mom, step-dad and other family members, then head to downtown Atlanta for the spectacular fireworks show. Now, we close doors and windows, turn televisions up a bit and pray that people keep firecrackers away from our house. I find myself being apprehensive on what the holiday holds. I cringe at the site of the stands that pop up overnight holding numerous firecrackers. I become angry at people for shooting them, even though I know that they don't know what it does to Kevin and in return to my family.
I find myself becoming overwhelmingly frustrated with those that we know and that know the situation become agitated sounding when I say that we can no longer do as we use to. We can no longer go out to the firework shows like we use to, because there are too many triggers from the people to the sight and sound of the fireworks to the crowds that surround them. They bring back the memories in full force of Iraq for Kevin and they leave him with flashbacks and nightmares. He use to love being able to get out on this holiday and he enjoyed it. Now, he takes his medications and attempts to go to bed before it even starts.
When you see that veteran that has been to combat, understand the way he may be jumpy. When you know a combat veteran that spends holidays like this one, such as mine, just understand and respect. Every time I hear our National Anthem or God Bless the USA, goose bumps take over my body, as I now hear these songs so differently than I did years ago. The hold a place within me that I cannot quite explain. When you hear them this year, listen to the words. Everyday, men and women put their lives on the line and many give their lives while many more give a big portion of who they are to insure we maintain our freedom.
Freedom isn't free... Just look at the men and women that have served and have given their lives. Look at the ones that came home with combat injuries and will never be the same.
I know I view the 4th of July differently now than I did before we ever lived the army life. Kevin is forever changed because of combat.