Morgan Hobbs has had family members and friends serve in the military. Some returned home safely from their combat missions.
Others did not.
On this day each year, more than any other, the Bravo Company Cadet and student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, reflects on the sacrifices those who serving before her have made defending America’s freedom.
And on this Independence Day in particular, as Hobbs takes her first steps along the path toward becoming an Army officer, she said the sadness she feels for those service members lost is mixed with feelings of anticipation of someday being a Soldier herself.
“Hopefully, one day I’ll be right up there beside them,” she said. “I appreciate and love everything they do for this country.”
Taking a brief break from the rigors of the Leader’s Training Course today, Cadets throughout the five companies at Fort Knox are marking the holiday with celebration and reflection of what it means to be Soldiers-in-training and of their desire to serve.
The Fourth of July has always been important to Charlie Company Cadet Elyssa Lewis. But being at LTC has helped her understand just how important it is to so many people.
“As you’re here, you’re learning discipline and you’re learning to appreciate those who have already sacrificed and made the final sacrifice,” said Lewis, a student at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. “I always cared about the Fourth of July, but I really have a deeper meaning and deeper connection with it now that I’m actually here and experiencing being around Soldiers that have actually been doing this for a lot longer than me.”
Independence Day brings feelings of pride and self-confidence in her training at LTC to become a Soldier, so she can stand tall for her country. She plans to spend the day reflecting on her time on post and regrouping with her company to prepare for the rest of training.
Delta Company Cadet Grant Thomas said he, too, feels pride when thinking about the Fourth. While training to become a future leader, Thomas, a student at Wentworth Military Academy and College in Lexington, Mo., said he is proud of his country, July 4 and what it means to him.
“It means my freedom,” he said. “My freedom to express myself, my religion and freedom to serve.”
With reflecting on the meaning of the Fourth of July, it’s hard to not think about those Soldiers serving overseas during the holiday. Thomas said he has nothing but respect for those in uniform.
“Even on the day of celebration, they are still over there carrying on what we started in the very beginning,” he said. “They are still trying to protect that freedom.”
Lewis shared the same gratitude.
“They’re doing something that I wish and hope that I get a chance to do one day,” she said.
Lewis said being a defender of America is important. It’s a responsibility where others look to defenders of freedom as leaders, and as leaders those defenders have to set examples.
“You are going to be what it means to be the home of the free and the brave,” Lewis said. “You are the definition of it.”