JUNCTION CITY – Holidays like
Independence Day just mean a little more in a military community.
Absolutely, retired Col.
John Seitz said. Junction City is home to so many military families and its
citizens have experienced the deployments, redeployments, hardships and
unfortunate losses of friends, he added.
“And so, it’s very
important for a community like this,” he said of the July 4 holiday.
Junction City hosted its
annual Independence Day celebration – Sundown Salute – July 2 to 5, drawing thousands
to the community for four days of family activities that included concerts, a
carnival, a 5K Fun Run, a Freedom Run 10K, a parade and fireworks.
Hundreds of 1st Infantry
Division and Fort Riley Soldiers marched in the July 4 parade, representing
every unit on post.
Members of the 1st Inf.
Div. Band and Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard joined Staff Sgt. David
Nakasone of the 84th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion, 1st Sustainment
Brigade, 1st Inf. Div., to lead the parade. Nakasone was recently named the
“Big Red One” Noncommissioned Officer of the Year after competing with several
of the top sergeants from across the division.
While a time of
celebration, the community also hosted a solemn Veterans Ceremony at Heritage
Park to recognize the service and sacrifices of those who serve and served.
Brig. Gen. Sean P.
Swindell, the 1st Inf. Div. deputy commanding general for maneuver, served as
the ceremony’s guest speaker, and offered his heartfelt appreciation to the
“I’m so pleased to be
celebrating the Fourth of July with you all this year in the nation’s heartland
and right here in Junction City,” he said. “We at the 1st Inf. Div. and Fort
Riley are grateful to you for your enduring support. As you know, the post has
faced deployments, redeployments and other changes facing the post. You have
been there through all of them, supporting our troops and supporting our
July 4 is a celebration of
the freedoms and independence Americans share and defend, Swindell went on to
“As we celebrate our
independence and freedom today, however, let us always be mindful -- freedom isn’t
free,” he said. “It was bought at a very high price of human lives when a rag
tag Army of colonists took on the tyranny of one of the most powerful nations
in the world at that time and won. All Americans can draw a straight line from the
free lives we live today to the one moment when the world changed forever. From
that day in 1776, freedom has had a home. Freedom has had a defender. Unlike
any other country, America came into this world with a message for mankind: that
all men are created equal and all men are meant to be free.”
Seitz praised the men and women
in uniform at Fort Riley.
“They make us proud to be
Junction City residents and have such great Soldiers around us,” he said.
Explaining to outsiders the
relationship between the 1st Inf. Div., Fort Riley and Junction City
communities isn’t an easy task, Seitz added.
“It’s something you have to
live to understand,” he said.