How Deployed U.S. Troops Celebrate The Fourth - And How Readers Can Give Back

source: Kim Lowe

Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and fireworks! July 4 is the pinnacle of summer vacation, bringing families together to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day. Military personnel in far-flung places will also celebrate July 4th, although it may not be the traditional barbecue. I asked Tamara Argyle — a Navy surgeon, avid reader and aspiring author — about her holiday experience while deployed to a remote location in Afghanistan. Tamara shared that the international coalition was used to shelling overnight. But the insurgents rocketed them all day on July 4th, thus requiring them to wear full body armor even in the mess tent, giving new meaning to:

And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

They were rewarded with a special dinner hosted by the Australian contingent who staffed the mess tent. Tamara enjoyed steak, corn-on-the cob and watermelon, bringing a little taste of home for the US troops.

I have never been deployed, but I have lived overseas while working for NATO. This unique tour of duty gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in European cultures. Several NATO delegations celebrate their national day with elegant receptions in medieval castles. In contrast, the US delegation hosts an old fashioned cook out on the Fourth of July on a sports field. The “basic” menu is symbolic for the day — we celebrate the unalienable right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

No matter where we celebrate, we’ll use Old Glory as our centerpiece. The flag’s colors are also symbolic for our nation’s birthday: the white stripes represent purity and innocence of a new nation emerging from tyranny. The red stripes demonstrate hardiness and valor that is needed every day to sustain freedom. The blue field conveys vigilance, perseverance and justice that serve as the fabric our American society. Military personnel proudly where the US flag on their uniforms as their commitment to stand guard over these virtues of our democracy.

USS Nimitz sailing by the USS Arizona Memorial

source: Kim Lowe

For our country’s 238th birthday, add one more item to your family picnic. Thank a veteran — soldier, sailor, marine and airmen — who serve up Freedom every day around the world.

- Kim Lowe


If you're feeling especially generous and patriotic, there are two programs that help readers send books to deployed U.S. soldiers.

1. Books For Soldiers - Books for Soldiers connects volunteers with soldiers via their forums, where volunteers can read and fulfill book requests posted by soldiers. Find out more about how you can become a volunteer here.

2. Operation Paperback - Operation Paperback operates similarly, accepting volunteers and creating an automated list of soldier addresses based on the genres of books volunteers have available for donation. Find more information on how to participate here.

Kim Lowe is an Air Force veteran, Air Force spouse and romance book blogger at SOS Aloha. Happy Fourth of July, U.S. readers!