Fourth Events to Highlight Nation's Support for Troops
By Denise Brown
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 30, 2003 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 events extend from July 1 through July 6," said Brent Krueger, director for community relations and public liaison for the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs.
"We have events happening everywhere. From the smallest town to the largest city, American citizens around the country will be thanking and supporting our troops over this patriotic holiday," Krueger added.
The week's events begin with a July 1 White House re- enlistment ceremony to mark the 30th anniversary of the All Volunteer Force. President Bush will re-enlist 30 military personnel at the ceremony, while 65 Military Entrance Processing Stations across the United States will conduct enlistment ceremonies for new service members.
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," Krueger said. "The events range from 20 people to 30,000 people, with some events even larger. It's amazing."