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Tears For Freedom
by Army Spc. Danielle Gregory - July 12, 2012

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A performer on stilts entertains families at the Fourth of July Freedom Fest at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort here, July 3, 2012. The Freedom Fest, June 29-July 4, is the second annual Fourth of July celebration at the Fairmont with activities for families to participate, as well as collecting donations from various organizations that benefit military service members and their families. Photo by Spc. Danielle Gregory
A performer on stilts entertains families at the Fourth of July Freedom Fest at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort here, July 3, 2012. The Freedom Fest, June 29-July 4, is the second annual Fourth of July celebration at the Fairmont with activities for families to participate, as well as collecting donations from various organizations that benefit military service members and their families. Photo by Army Spc. Danielle Gregory
 SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (7/8/2012) -- Soldiers in the National Guard partnered with the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort to host the Fourth of July Freedom Fest for service members and civilians here, June 29 –July 4.

The Freedom Fest is the second annual Fourth of July celebration at the Fairmont with many activities for families to participate in, resulting in donations from various organizations that benefit military service members and their families.

We are here to celebrate events that lead to the Declaration of Independence and brought forward a nation unlike any other, said Command Sgt. Maj. Max Butler, the state command sergeant major of the Arizona National Guard.

This event benefits the United Service Organization, The Army National Guard Emergency Relief Fund, as well as Friends of Freedom, which gives scholarships to military families.

“The purpose is to celebrate our freedom and to honor the military for all of the service that they do and we appreciate that on so many levels,” said Valerie Lee, the public relations officer at the hotel.

Activities and displays included a rock wall, military water-survival training, games, military vehicles and aircraft displays, and live music.

“We are very grateful for the Arizona National Guard bringing out all of these vehicles, rock climbing walls, putting gear on the kids and teaching them water survival,” Lee said. “It is a way for Army personnel to interact with guests in a fun and meaningful way.”

On the last night of the event, retired Sgt. 1st Class Dana Bowman, a paraplegic and former member of an elite parachute team, the Golden Knights, parachuted from a helicopter into the concert while waving a giant American flag.

“To be able to jump from a plane with no legs, it doesn't matter, because each and every one of us has a disability,” Bowman said. “Your disabilities are the things you think you cannot do.”

Spc. Molly Cartens, a truck driver in Alpha Company, 158th Brigade Support Battalion, volunteered as a rifleman for the color guard at the event's concert, and shared her experience with being a part of the event festivities.

“I came to be in the color guard and help support the various charity events for the National Guard here,” Cartens said. “It's nice for civilians to understand that we are just like them even though we are a select few who stand up for our country.”

The themes of remembrance and appreciation remained strong throughout the event and were reflected in the speeches presented.

The militias of the past stood strong and stood tall, and they carried a dream forward, Butler said. It was nothing more than a hope-a hope that maybe tomorrow their children could go to school, and a hope that maybe tomorrow there would be freedom for everyone. But it cost dearly as some of them died in place rather than give up an inch of ground.

People at the event laughed, cried and cheered and children were captivated watching Bowman's parachute jump and Butler's passionate speech.

“I think seeing everybody choked up, especially on the last night of the event, tears are flowing, people are inspired and I think it really just shows that we want to remember the purpose of the holiday, and why we're here to celebrate different branches of the military and all service personnel,” Lee said.

By Army Spc. Danielle Gregory
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2012

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