Many families throughout the Brainerd lakes area will attend Fourth of July parades and marvel at the fireworks, but some residents find a deeper meaning behind the festivities.
Many area VFW and American Legion members will celebrate Independence Day with each other to remember the sacrifices they made while serving in the United State's wars.
"We understand the sacrifices that were made starting with our founding fathers," said Theodore Johnson, Jenkins, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.
Jenkins VFW Post 3839's color guard will walk in the Pequot Lakes parade Thursday. Many VFW members will attend the parade, Johnson said.
Members of the Aitkin American Legion color guard will be in the Hill City parade.
Johnson said he and other veterans are different from many people because they put their hands over their hearts or salute when the flag goes by.
"When you get shipped overseas the flag has a little more meaning," said Frank Kingsley, Aitkin, who served in the Air Force during the Korean War.
Some of Brainerd's veterans will walk in area parades. Fifteen to 18 members of the Brainerd American Legion and its color guard will walk in two parades on the Fourth of July. They will be in the Crosby-Ironton parade beginning at 11 a.m. Thursday and the Brainerd-Baxter parade beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday.
In honor of the 50-year anniversary of the Korean War, Brainerd-Baxter parade organizers dedicated this year's parade to Korean War veterans and invited them to walk in the parade.
"It's rather nice. It gives a little recognition to the people who served in the Korean War," Kingsley said.
Some people have complained of waning patriotism in the past, but the veterans said the war in Afghanistan has made many U.S. citizens more patriotic.
"I'm sure this 9-11 episode has made people more patriotic," Kingsley said.
Johnson said though he served in Vietnam to demonstrate his love of the United States, there are other ways to be patriotic, such as voting or running for office.
"Patriotism isn't running off with a gun," Johnson said, adding patriotism is loving God first and your country second.
"Afghanistan is just another chapter in our country's legacy in what the country stands for," Johnson said.
Earl Bedard, Ironton, said U.S. citizens are lucky to be living in a country with so many freedoms. He served in the Navy during World War II.
"It's still the greatest country of the world to be living in," Bedard said.
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