Independence Day: Honoring Freedom
July is always a big month for Americans as we celebrate Independence Day. July 4th, 2018 marked the 242nd birthday of the United States of America. The American Independence Day is a federal holiday that commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence; the day our country declared its’ freedom from the British crown. Every year Americans celebrate with food, fireworks, and other festivities, always remembering to honor our troops for the sacrifices they make daily to secure our country’s freedoms.
The month ends with the Army Chaplain Corps Anniversary on July 29th. Many people do not know about the chaplains whose purpose is to offer religious church services, counseling, and moral support for our armed forces. The Army Chaplains consist of ordained clergy of varying faiths who are commissioned as Army officers serving as both military chaplains as well as enlisted soldiers who serve as assistants. Military chaplains have served alongside our soldiers since the United States declared independence in 1776. Today, nearly 3,000 chaplains serve, representing 140 different religious organizations.
Although the chaplain’s main job is to offer church services and support, nearly 300 Army chaplains have laid down their lives in battle. Seven members of the Army Chaplain Corps have been recipients of the Medal of Honor, along with several other chaplains from different military divisions. Father Tim Vakoc, who served during the Iraq War in 2003-2004, was the most recent Army Chaplain to receive the Medal of Honor. He was returning from a mass in the field when a roadside bomb went off, paralyzing him and leaving him with severe brain damage. Father Vakoc was in a coma for six months before showing signs of improvement. He was able to regain some speech, and communicate using a computer, before passing in 2009. Chaplains are brave men and women of our armed forces and we thank them for their service, sacrifice and commitment to our country and those who serve alongside them.
As we think about freedom, and our military who protect our freedom, remember there are many ways to help. Joining the military or chaplain corps are just two of the ways to support this great country, but donations to programs helping the military can go a long way as well. The Patriots Initiative created The Directory to help ease donors’ minds when donating to organizations focused solely on helping our active duty military, veterans, and their families. The Directory consists of only the finest nonprofits dedicated to serving America’s military community.
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