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Freedom is not free this July Fourth

Patrick AFB -- The Fourth of July is our greatest celebration of freedom and the words "Freedom is not free" have extra-special meaning this year as we surge into the fifth year of war in Iraq.

As with any war, this conflict has brought with it high costs in terms of sacrifice and loss. Fortunately, we have not lost any Airmen deployed from the 45th Space Wing or our mission partners, but many of you and your families have sacrificed and/or will sacrifice in the future. But those sacrifices have not and will not be in vain. Almost every Airman I speak to who has served in Iraq or Afghanistan has told me that we are doing great things over there that somehow do not make the evening news or morning papers.

In the proud tradition of America, our military forces are creating opportunities and helping oppressed people understand what it is like to live free. Liberty is not only an American birthright, it is our greatest export.

Nothing worth having comes without hard work and sacrifice. And needless to say our freedom, national interests and way of life are certainly worth fighting for. It all started July 4, 1776, when our Nation's Founders declared, "That these United Colonies are, and of Right, ought to be free and Independent States." This declaration marked a great milestone in the history of human freedom. On the 231st anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we must pay tribute to the courage and dedication of those who created this country and we celebrate the values of liberty and equality that make our country strong.

You, our valued Airmen Warriors of today, who deploy to fly, fight and win our battle against terrorism have that same courage and dedication and share those same values.

So when at picnics, barbeques, fireworks displays and parades celebrating the Fourth with family and friends, be justifiably proud that your selfless service plays a vital role in keeping our nation free, strong and prosperous. What you do also helps others around the world live free. It is America's birthday and as members of the world's greatest force for peace and justice you have earned the right to celebrate. Go Sharks!