The Fourth of July is a glorious day for many of us, one often celebrated in truly American fashion. From coast to coast, the day will be filled with backyard barbecues. At night, we’ll settle in to watch some awe-inspiring fireworks displays. Surrounded by family and friends, it’s hard to imagine a better way to spend a summer day.Of course, it’s worth remembering why we celebrate this day. Not just simply a date on the calendar, July 4th represents our Independence Day. However, Independence Day marks the day we declared our intent to separate ourselves from the clutches of tyranny. It took a war against the most powerful military on Earth to actually earn it.
In the seven years after that fateful day in 1776, many brave patriots spilled blood in battle to assure the independence we declared was able to come to fruition. Since then, brave Americans have continued to fight, all to preserve what we earned over two centuries ago.
Clebe McClary is one of those brave Americans who fought to preserve our freedoms. He fought valiantly in Vietnam, losing an eye, an arm and several fingers in the process. Through his experience, his daughter, Tara McClary Reeve, gained an appreciation for the meaning of this day, inspiring her to share his amazing story with the world.
From Fox News:My handsome father, Clebe McClary, wears a patch where his left eye used to be, and his left sleeve hangs empty. Only two of his remaining fingers work because of shrapnel fragments embedded in his right hand. Though some might expect him to complain about these injuries sustained in the Vietnam War, I’ve never heard him do so. Instead, Daddy uses his challenges as a platform to encourage people and sums up his war experience this way: “You’ve never lived until you’ve nearly died.”
Daddy walks in gratitude for every day God has given him, and he’s taught me to do the same. He loves our country, and he is proud to have fought for her. From my earliest memories, he has refused to accept that he lost his left arm and eye. “You only lose something when you don’t know where it is,” the argument goes. He feels he gave pieces of his body on Hill 146 in Vietnam, offering them in service to our great nation in hopes of spreading the freedom she represents.
McClary used his experience to teach his children gratitude:
While I was growing up, my parents made it a point to remind my sister Christa and me of the similar sacrifices that red stripe on our flag memorializes. As we stood at attention for the presentation of America’s colors and the singing of the anthem at sporting events, we pressed our right hands over our chests and concentrated on the thump of our little hearts beating against our palms. “Remember,” Mother and Daddy whispered as we settled back into our seats, “there are thousands of soldiers whose hearts no longer beat so that yours can.”You can read the rest of Tara’s story here. Her newest book, “Is Your Dad a Pirate?” will be released on August 1st.
McClary represents the true meaning of Independence Day. As we celebrate freedom, we should always remember those that put everything on the line in order to make this day possible. America may be the land of the free, but it’s only made possible by being the home of the brave.
[Note: This post was authored by Michael Lee. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee]