As we do every year, Texans across the state will gather this Fourth of July at barbecues, parades and picnics to enjoy time with family and friends, watch fireworks, and celebrate the anniversary of the birth of our nation.
Independence Day is an annual reminder that we are fortunate to enjoy the greatest freedoms in the world, but even more importantly, it reminds us that freedom is not free.
For generations, brave service members have made countless sacrifices to safeguard our liberties and preserve our way of life. These heroes have risked everything to make America stronger and safer and to bring freedom to other corners of the world.
In Texas, our pride and our appreciation for our men and women in uniform runs deep. Recently, students from Tyler Independent School District raised money and wrote letters in support of Operation Gratitude, a national organization that sends thousands of care packages and correspondence to deployed military service members each year.
One of these students, senior Katie Sperry, wrote to a soldier: “Dear Hero, I’m calling you this because a hero is exactly what you are to me. I can never thank you enough for your service. It means so much to every American…I hope you stay safe and that you will return home soon…You make me proud to be an American. We’ll be praying for you.”
Katie’s message of gratitude is one that was echoed earlier this month in Tomball, Texas, when an unexpected celebration brought joy and peace of mind to a military family in need.
One year ago, Staff Sgt. Travis Palmer applied to the program Operation Finally Home, a Texas-based national non-profit that provides custom-built, mortgage-free homes to America’s heroes and the widows of our fallen service members.
Palmer served two tours of duty in Iraq and suffered both physical and psychological wounds that left him unable to work. A father of four children, Palmer has been concerned about providing for his family. He recently went to what he thought was another interview in the process to be selected to receive a home through the non-profit. In reality, it was a surprise groundbreaking on construction of his new home, courtesy of Operation Finally Home, H-E-B, and Pulte Homes.
The Palmers were overwhelmed with gratitude and relief following months of hardship. “I know what it means to me. This means security, a place I can call home,” Sergeant Palmer said. Palmer’s wife Toni said: “We’ll have more time to bond. He still has a lot of healing to do.”
This Fourth of July, may we continue the example set by these charitable Texans and show our appreciation to those who have given so much to enable us to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
May God bless you, and may He continue to bless Texas and the United States of America on her 238th birthday.
Sources: KRIV FOX 26, KYTX CBS 19
By U.S. Sen. John Cornyn