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KIMT NEWS 3 — America is 237-years-old this year and many will be celebrating with parades, grill-outs and, of course, fireworks.
But some local families bring military pride to what many see as just another holiday.
When it comes to the American flag and the Fourth of July, many may think of it as red, white and blue and what is the symbol of our nation, but for some the meaning is much deeper.
“It’s just the overall celebration of our independence,” said Lester Shaunce of Albert Lea.
“It has become more personal. I have two sons in the military and it means to me that I have to celebrate it everyday for their safe return,” said Lisa Boeckholt of Fertile.
“When you’re in the military and you’re moving around, you kind of get a deeper feel for the military and you have the utmost respect for what they do,” said Haley Bilky of Mason City.
These people are all tied to the military in different ways.
Shaunce is a Vietnam veteran.
“My father in law was a Navy veteran, and my brother was a Vietnam veteran,” Shaunce said.
Bilky’s father retired from the military after more than 22 years of service, so travel was part of her life.
“We lived in Virginia, Hawaii and Texas and my dad also fought in the Iraqi war in ’04 and ’05, that was when I was in fourth or fifth grade,” Bilky said.
Boeckholt has two sons serving in the Army. One of them is fighting overseas right now.
“This is the first year that I’ve thought of Independence Day of being different to me, having it be more personal, fifth generation on my side, fourth generation on my husband’s side, it goes back a long ways to World War I,” Boeckholt said.
While their stories may be different, the way they celebrate tends to be the same as most people. The day may start off with parades, transition to grill-outs with family and end the night with some fireworks.
“It’s not a whole lot different from what most people do, but there’s definitely that deeper meaning,” Bilky said.
That deeper meaning comes by simply watching the festivities that have been taking place all week.
“Almost all parades, at least in this area that I attend area geared toward the flag or the U.S., people that have served, which, to me, is kind of tear jerking, you know,” Shaunce said.
The emotions of this time of year may come to more than just military families, but the pride that they carry around cannot be compared.
“Knowing that he’s fighting in 120 degree weather, wearing full armor, knowing that he has lost some of his fallen brothers, I will definitely be praying for his safe return and all of the soldiers,” Boeckholt said.
“I’m so proud to know that my brother is fighting for our country, it’s just so interesting and to have both of them there, I just can’t even believe it,” said Kyra Boeckholt, Lisa’s daughter.
But for them, the Fourth of July is just a reflection of the pride they feel the other 364 days of the year.
“You’re kind of blessed when you have a family like that, that you know is going to stand out there and fight for you, it’s a really patriotic feeling that you get,” Bilky said.
Boeckholt said she is rarely able to see her sons in person. She thanks technology like Skype for her to be able to see them at all.
Shaunce said that they always need people to join organizations like VFWs and American Legions and such. He said it is important because their membership dues go toward lobbying congress to get benefits for veterans.