July 4 for many Americans is a beery day of sports, food, boating and fireworks. Historically, of course, July 4, 1776, is the date we declared our independence from Great Britain when this was a risky proposition.
It is such an American holiday. Because it falls on a day off, I will get holiday pay even though I am not working. On the last Independence Day, my younger boy, Eric, was out of the country.
This July 4 has special significance for me because Jens Michaelsen is at sea, not at home on Oahu. Actually, he will be under the Pacific Ocean for several months with more than 100 of his closest friends. While his service is safer than those who serve on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is not without risk. He is serving on a boat that was launched and decorated for service during the Cold War before he was even born.
We all weep for the family and friends of those who become casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those of us who are parents never want to bury our children. Some who serve in the Middle Eastern have marked several Independence Days there. However, they are all volunteers.
Jens is a volunteer, too. He enlisted shortly before he was 18 and turned 23, also at sea. Here is a recent picture of him with his girlfriend.