Patriotism drives Independence Day celebrations

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BYU Army ROTC cadets hold up an American flag at a football game in September 2014. Army ROTC Cadet Spencer Allen said he has a special appreciation for the fourth of July. (BYU Army ROTC).

Independence Day can be a day of fireworks and barbecues for many Americans, and the Fourth of July is all that celebration and a little more for members of the armed forces.

Celebrating Independence Day carries more weight for Army ROTC Cadet Spencer Allen, whose father is in the Utah National Guard.  Allen said he and his family probably celebrate the same as everyone else, but he tends to take July Fourth and other national holidays more seriously.

“I think anyone who is willing to join the military has to think, ‘Is America, is my country, something that I’m willing to potentially give my life for?'” Allen said. “It probably does take a little bit more of a commitment and a little bit more appreciation to the country as a whole to be willing to do that.”

Allen is excited to serve and looks forward to being an infantry officer, but patriotism is anything but blind for him.  The United States of America is imperfect and has a long way to go, according to Allen.

“I think patriotism is a commitment to your fellow citizens, a true love for your fellow citizens and a commitment to the ideals that the Constitution stands for,” Allen said.

Allen (front center) trains as part of Tactical Combat Casualty Care in April 2017. (BYU Army ROTC)

Army National Guard member and Army ROTC Cadet Kevin Lewis also feels eager to serve his country and fellow citizens.  He has a military pedigree and mentioned at least three family members who have served in the armed forces.

Lewis said the family tradition of military service influenced his decision to join the military, but another major factor for his decision was a patriotic duty he felt to serve his country.

“Patriotism for me is being willing to put the needs of the country above your own and having a deep respect for what your country represents and the good things that it does,” Lewis said.

While he was growing up, Lewis’ father made sure to instill in him a deeper understanding for and appreciation of not only major national holidays like Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day, but also the sacrifices that had been made for Lewis and what those days represented.

Lewis hopes to go into military intelligence with the National Guard and desires to make a difference in the world.

Patriotism is fundamentally tied to the Declaration of Independence, especially on Independence Day, according to BYU political science professor Jeremy Pope.

“It only makes sense, in my opinion, to love America if you like the core set of ideas that motivate the country, and for the United States that is found in the Declaration of Independence,” Pope said.

Those core ideas that motivate the country are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Pope recognizes much of the document — particularly the middle — can be dull, but he still believes people should read it at least once in their lives.

“It expresses something about the American creed and why we should have a good government and what our version of a good society should look like,” Pope said.

Below are some ways to celebrate Independence Day in Utah Valley.

Events in Utah Valley for July

Freedom Days America’s Freedom Festival in Downtown Provo from June 30 to July 4

Balloon Fest with hot air balloons on Bull Dog Field from July 1 to July 4, 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. each day

Colonial Heritage Festival from July 1 to July 4 in SCERA Park.

Cries of Freedom, The Musical, from July 1 to July 4 in SCERA Park.

Military Outpost from July 1 to July 4 in SCERA Park.

Fine Art Show from July 1 to July 4 in Historic Utah County Courthouse

Stadium of Fire on July 1 at 8 p.m. featuring Little Big Town with Brian Regan and Hunter Hayes in LaVell Edwards Stadium

Freedom Run 10k, 5k, and one-mile fun run on July 4 at 7 am starting in Kiwanis Park

Grand Parade on July 4 starting at 9 a.m.

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