4th of July weekend, one of the best weekends of summer. The peak of the season. We all head out of town, fire up the grills and enjoy the sunshine and fireworks.

My family always had another tradition for the 4th of July. Every year on the 4th, we would all sit together as a family and watch Johnny Tremain. And that isn’t a joke. No matter how nice it was outside, the entire family would be in the living room listening to Sam Adams and crew sing “Sons of Liberty” (my favorite part of the movie!)

We watched this movie every year for the purpose of reminding ourselves why we even celebrate. We’ve all taken American History (I hope!) and know the background of the Revolutionary War, the Declaration of Independence, and so on and so forth, however I think that it is easily forgotten among all of the other festivities that go on on throughout the weekend.

This year the 4th of July is going to hold a lot more weight. My younger brother is currently stationed in Afghanistan and won’t be home to cook out and watch the fireworks with everyone. For as long as I can remember, he wanted to join the Army and as soon as he graduated high school, that’s what he did. While I’ve always considered myself to be pretty patriotic, I never really realized how much our soldiers sacrifice, until it hit home.

Last year, I discovered a great organization called Soldiers’ Angels. Their motto “May No Soldier Go Unloved.” Through the organization you can “adopt a soldier” which means making the commitment to send a letter once a week and a care package at least once a month. They also organize numerous projects and coordinate a number of different teams for those who may not be able to make the commitment to adopt. I’ve been a volunteer since March 2009, I’ve adopted 2 soldiers and been a member of the letter writing team.

My favorite part about Soldiers’ Angels is that it lets all the Soldiers out there know that there are people thinking of them and supporting them. It gives me the opportunity to show my support for all of the sacrifices that they make so that I can sit at my computer and write about whatever the heck I like, read what I want, say what I want, and ultimately do what I want (with limits of course).

When we celebrate the 4th of July, we’re not just celebrating what happened 200+ years ago. We’re celebrating every day since then that we’ve lived in a free country, all thanks to the brave men and women who put everything on the line for our freedom.

If you only do one thing this weekend – Thank a Soldier. Buy them lunch or a drink. Whatever you do, show them how much they’re appreciated.

I highly recommend adopting a Soldier through Soldiers’ Angels. Its really a great and rewarding experience. Follow the stories of Why We Celebrate on Twitter and Facebook all weekend long!

To any soldiers reading this, thank you, from the bottom of my heart for everything you do. Happy 4th of July everyone!

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