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Guard members fitting marshals for parade

As the traditional Fourth of July parade rolls down Main Street in Brundidge today, members of the 900th Maintenance Company of the Alabama National Guard will be leading the way.

It’s a fitting tribute to a group of citizen soldiers who soon will be shipping out in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The soldiers, who will head to Afghanistan in August, are preparing to leave behind their families; their work; and the lives they know in defense of freedom. It’s fitting, then, that the Brundidge Business Association chose to make them the honorary grand marshals of the annual Independence Day parade, an event which honors the marking of our nation’s freedom more than 230 years ago.

And during the next week, our nation will celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, that same Independence Day. We mark it with family get-togethers; picnics; fireworks; trips to the beach; and plenty of red, white and blue. In the midst of the summertime fun and frivolity, though, we should pause and give thought to the men and women of the 900th Maintenance Company, and the thousands of everyday heroes like them, who are fighting around the world to protect our freedom and the freedom of oppressed people in other nations. These soldiers are our neighbors; our friends; our brothers; our sons; our cousins. They are just like us … But different, because they have answered the call to defend our independence.

They understand how precious our freedom is, and they are willing to sacrifice their comfort and their lives to protect it.

That’s a mighty gift when you stop to think about it.

So today, when you head to that parade, wave your hands high to those grand marshals from the 900th Maintenance Company, and say a special prayer of thanks for them and all the men and women who still fight today to protect the freedom and independence earned more than 200 years ago.