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A "God Bless America" sign decorates the mess hall here, July 4, 2013. "To me, the Fourth of July simply means freedom," said Cpl. Dimitri Armstead, 20, from Kailua, Hawaii, a motor transportation mechanic with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7. "It's a day to remember the sacrifices made by past service members who gave their lives for the country."

Photo by Lance Cpl. Mel Johnson

'America’s Battalion' celebrates Fourth of July

4 Jul 2013 | Cpl. Mel Johnson

“To me, the Fourth of July simply means freedom,” said Cpl. Dimitri Armstead. “It’s a day to remember the sacrifices made by past service members who gave their lives for the country.”

For Armstead, a motor transportation mechanic and 20-year-old native of Kailua, Hawaii and fellow Marines who are deployed, the Fourth of July is a reminder of just how important freedom is. So Marines with 2nd Bn., 8th Marines celebrated our nation’s 237th birthday here, July 4, 2013.

The Fourth of July is a time to get together with family and friends to celebrate freedom, said Cpl. Aaron Perkis, a rifleman with 2nd Bn., 8th Marines.

Perkis, a 26-year-old native of Riverdale, Utah, is on his second deployment, and has missed several Independence Days at home, but said that is what makes him even more appreciative of what he is missing.

"Describing it in one word—humbling," Perkis said. "We take so many things for granted—like being able to sit in the back yard or park and watch fireworks."

Perkis said he plans on embracing life more when he returns and added that despite the tough times while deployed, he takes pride in the fact that he is part of something bigger than himself.
For some Marines, this is their first holiday in Afghanistan.

Lance Cpl. Austin Fuller, who is on his first deployment, said the Fourth of  July has always been a very important holiday in Fuller’s family as his parents take great pride in being proud Americans. A rifleman and 20-year-old native of Louisville, Ky., Fuller said his parents always told him about the history of America's independence, and made sure he understood what they were celebrating.

“Since I was a kid, my parents always made sure I knew why we celebrated on the fourth of July," Fuller said. “They wanted to instill in me that it was more than just barbeques and fireworks.

“While the fireworks look nice and the foods may taste good, it’s about celebrating the official beginning of freedom, supporting service members and bringing families together—and remembering the ultimate sacrifice for freedom,” Fuller said.