How did you spend Independence Day?

Byline: | Category: Iraq, Military | Posted at: Friday, 4 July 2008

UPDATE: Video

BAGHDAD – How are you spending your 4th of July holiday? While most Americans probably slept, 1,215 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines raised their right hands and committed to a combined 5,500 years of additional service during the largest reenlistment ceremony in the history of the American military. Beneath a large American flag which dwarfed even the enormous chandelier that Saddam Hussein had built for the Al Faw Palace, members of all services, representing all 50 states took the oath administered by Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of Multi-National Forces Iraq.

Petraeus, reiterating earlier remarks made by Command Sergeant Major Hill, said that the unprecedented ceremony sends a “message to friend and foe alike.” He told those assembled that it is “impossible to calculate the value of what you are giving to our country . . . For no bonus, no matter the size, can adequately compensate you for the contribution each of you makes as a custodian of our nation’s defenses.”

Last year Gen. Petraeus, along with Senator John McCain, presided over a similar Independence Day ceremony. Then only 588 servicemen reenlisted. This year’s event, more than twice as large, saw the equivalent of two battalions extend their service in America’s military. Nearly the entire rotunda was filled with reenlisting servicemen, their voices drowning out all other noise. For two days the military members, flown in for the occasion from all across Iraq, have toured the elaborate palace where Saddam’s sons were said to have entertained friends lavishly and tortured enemies mercilessly in the basement dungeon. Following the ceremony, they were treated to Chicago deep dish pizza donated by Lou Malnati’s Restaurant and flown fresh by DHL for the occasion.

Among those in attendance were service members from the more than two dozen Allies serving with MNF-I. Along with their American counterparts, each appeared in awe of the sacrifice of these incredible men and women. Each of the reenlistees knows full well the costs of war, and yet, they chose to stand with their units, their mission, and each other. It was as humbling an experience as I have ever witnessed. On this 4th of July, while you celebrate around grills and coolers all across America, keep in mind the 1,215 who allow us that privilege.

*Ten hours later and the YouTube video finally “processed.” Here is the link.

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53 Responses to “How did you spend Independence Day?”

  1. kevin p. conway Says:

    hey Kieth, would you do it for 12 grand? Yeah, thats what I thought, lets ALL be real.

  2. Kenneth Harrison Says:

    I volinteered for the Army. I am 61 and spent 20 months in Vietnam and if I had a chance to do it over again I would, and would not hesitate to go to Iraq, I know how important it is to serve for my Country. I am proud of those who are serving now.

    Kenneth Harrison
    Vietnam Veterans Of America
    Chapter 991
    Palestine, TX.
    Never Again Will one generation of Veterans
    Abandon Another

  3. Paige Says:

    all i have to say is thank you GOD for everything you have done and you continue to do for our country and thank you to all the brave men and women that are fighting for our freedom!