It has been 12 years since I left the Marine Corps and began the long road back to civilian life. As I write this its July 2019 another 4th of July is upon us. 

Every year we go to a local parade and being in the Midwest, it is filled with lots of Firetrucks, tractors, and floats. And every year I can’t help but cry when the Flags walk by. Last year I took an extra few moments to dig into the emotion and see what triggers it.

I never served in Iraq or Afghanistan or had to deal with the loss of a friend, but every year, it still gets me. A couple of words came to mind, joy, happiness, overwhelmed, thankful, and the last one was disconnected.

Disconnected was an odd one as I didn’t know what it meant, why would I feel disconnected in a moment that should be like every other moment.

So I dug down some more and remembered the very first time I cried on the 4th of July, and it was the year 2006. I was stationed in Okinawa at the time, and I was home on leave that summer over the 4th. It had been the first time I had been in the states over the holiday since joining.

I remember reflecting at that moment in 2006 that most people in America will never know or even begin to understand what the cost of freedom is. I looked around at people watching and thinking about all my fellow Marines serving in the war at the time or just stationed away from family. We celebrate this holiday in the United States like 1776 all over again, and the declaration was just signed. But to me it’s more than that, it’s about the sacrifice that has taken place between 1776 and now.

And ever since that parade in 2006, I cry every year in the same moment when the veterans begin to carry the flags, and the Firetrucks compound the emotion of their sacrifice to serve and protect.

I reflect and remember that the beginning is a reminder of the sacrifice taking place to be free.

I think back to my travels to the Philippines and appreciating the freedom and opportunity we all get to enjoy in our country. This perspective is what is missing on this holiday. We far to often reflect inward on why Freedom is essential to our country, but I always find myself thinking about how important freedom is to the world.

I reflect on the 4th of July not has a celebration for our Independence, but for what it is really is. The turning point when a brave few men said, no more. No more will men and woman will be controlled by governments, monarchs, or ternary. Freedom is now prevalent throughout the world, but this day represents when the momentum shifted.

And so I cry on the 4th of July because of the overwhelming joy and appreciation for what I have as Veteran, Husband, and Dad to shape the world around me. I cry because of my connection to my podcast, the Military Veteran Dad, and the mission to bring every dad home. 

One theme has come through on the podcast that is worth repeating every chance I get. Others died so that I could hug my kids at night.  I may not have been in battle, but others did and those that didn’t come home never will hug their kids nor will there kids hug there dad. 

I reflect on the freedom this holiday represents and leaving a legacy of a family that is worthy of their sacrifice.    

Most importantly, we never forget that it was a day where the world was changed forever.