Independence Day is filled with grill smoke and fireworks, but it's important to honor those who sacrificed for our freedom. At the Milwaukee VA, there was a picnic for the heroes who have served to defend our country.
All branches were represented from wars as far back as WWII. It gave them an opportunity to enjoy the holiday that represents why most of them decided to join the armed services.
"It's a great opportunity to celebrate," Matt Bergum, an Army veteran said. "We enjoy freedom, luxuries and things. Most important to me is sort of remembering how we got here."
"If you look around, it doesn't matter about race or about religion," Nikolas Addis, an Army veteran said. "We're all here celebrating and being Americans. There's enough horror in war and the pursuit of freedom. It's nice to see people enjoy it."
Addis loves to see people enjoy the 4th of July. He says it's part of what he fought for; to give people the right to relax and enjoy themselves in America. While he likes to enjoy the holiday like everyone else, it has more meaning to him for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice alongside him.
"I look at the true heroes who actually gave it all," Addis said. "Celebrating them for this day."
When it comes to heroes, Addis' resume is hard to beat. He earned two purple hearts while serving in Iraq. So the many handshakes and thanks he receives are well deserved, even if he thinks it doesn't feel right.
"To be honest, it's a little weird," Addis said. "I was going to do it regardless. I was always going to serve. I love this country and was always going to serve. [But], it just means a lot. I don't know how to explain it. It's something our founding fathers fought for. Good or bad, I fought for it too."