Editor's note: Kathleen Harris Causey is a military wife based out of Bethesda, Maryland. She blogs at AfterBlastWarriorWife.com.
Before being inaugurated into the world of the military family, I celebrated the Fourth as much of
Any holiday that calls for the standard of congregating with the ones you like best is a great event indeed, and I of course knew our nation's origins were cause for a holiday, but I didn't bleed red, white, and blue. Not all patriotic holidays call for the honoring of the troops past and present, but due to the length of the
My life changed drastically between last July and this one, though. On September 7th, 2011, my husband Aaron was performing EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) operations in
In that moment both of his legs were blown off -- resulting in above the knee amputation -- along with two fingers, broken arms, and a myriad of other injuries. Instantly, everyone who loved Aaron became the friend and family member of a wounded warrior.
While we were thrown into a nightmare that no horror movie could depict, we also became a group of particular patriots -- the kind that knows what freedom really is and how much the fight for it can take from you.
In many ways, every day Aaron lived and fought for recovery became a patriotic holiday. Here at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, I experience the cost of our freedom every day, along with hundreds of other wounded warriors and their families: a definition of freedom that began with the Fourth of July 236 years ago.
It is difficult to think of our nation's birthday without also thinking of the Constitution. What this country fought for at that time, and by design stands for today, is articulated in the Declaration of Independence, of which the oft-quoted line, "certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" stands out.
As Aaron and I forge on in recovery, I have often reflected on these inalienable rights. Our country has given us life by way of the excellent care he receives here at the hospital. We also retain the same liberty as all other Americans and only stand out because Aaron fought for that liberty and paid a great price for it. We are able to be here because other men and women continue to do so today.
And as for the pursuit of happiness? We strive for it every day. We pursue our dreams of the future with each breath, even when certain things we must do feel insurmountable. No matter what, each day we live out that line from the Constitution and we're fortunate souls for the opportunity.
So this Fourth of July I not only celebrate our nation's fiery and convicted beginnings, but I also celebrate being lucky enough to really live out some of those founding ideals every day. It's an opportunity to bathe in the colors of the flag and the true start and meaning of American patriotism. The Fourth has definitely become to mean something new to Aaron and me, and I'll wave my flag more proudly than ever before this holiday.
Read more: Salute to Troops