More than 4,000 military troops and Defense Department civilians will take part in Independence Day events across the United States as part of Operation Tribute to Freedom, the DoD initiative encouraging Americans to thank and support U.S. troops.
These service members and civilians will be supporting more than 2,000 parades, military bands, color guards, speeches and military aircraft flyovers as the nation pauses to celebrate its independence and extend its thanks to troops serving worldwide in the war on terrorism.
The "Hometown Heroes" program is sending more than 1,000 troops back to their hometowns to participate in Fourth of July events. Army Chief Warrant Officer Ronald D. Young Jr., former Iraqi prisoner of war, will be the grand marshal of Atlanta's July Fourth parade. About 200 fellow Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans will join Young.
Senior Defense Department military and civilian personnel will also be traveling to communities to participate in Fourth of July events. Peter Verga, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, will attend July 4 events in McLean, Va. Navy Rear Adm. Nancy Brown, Joint Chiefs' vice director of command, control and communications, will attend the day's ceremonies at Mount Vernon, Va., site of George Washington's home estate.
"This is definitely the largest outreach effort in recent memory designed to support the troops," Brent Krueger director for community relations and public liaison for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs said. "The events range from 20 people to 30,000 people, with some events even larger. It's amazing."