Three veterans’ take on the Fourth of July

By: Taylor Kaluza

Multimedia Journalist

During the summer, many of us anticipate being able to celebrate the Fourth of July. It is a time when we gather with friends, family or co-workers to celebrate the day that the United States claimed independence.

When people think of July 4, many may think of the big cookouts, catching up with family and friends, watching the kids run around with sparklers and ending the night with a sky painted by fireworks. It is a day to come together and show that after 245 years of claiming our country, Americans still come together to commemorate what those before us did.

Although we celebrate what those before us did, we also celebrate those who continue to serve our country and make the ultimate sacrifice to provide our freedom and security.

In the beginning, the 13 colonies were established and ruled by Great Britain. Over time, colonists began wanting freedom to do as they wished and be free from rule across the ocean. Continental Congress met and drafted a statement declaring a break from the monarchy. The Revolutionary War, which continued from 1775 to 1783, started due to this declaration which then led to the victory of the Americans at Yorktown.

While the colonists fought hard to gain our freedom many years ago, many in our country were brave enough to continue that and still do today. Texan News interviewed three veterans about Independence Day and what the holiday means to them.

The first veteran is John Kaluza Jr., who served during the Vietnam War. Kaluza served in the United States Army from October of 1967 to July of 1969. He was stationed in Fort Louis in Tacoma, Washington before he was transferred to Thailand during the Vietnam War.

John Kaluza Jr. and some of the medals he was awarded in the military.
Photo courtesy of John Kaluza Jr.

When asked about what Independence Day means to him, Kaluza said, “I believe in the holiday, flying the flag everyday and serving my country.”

Kaluza talked about why he joined the military saying, “I was drafted, but had received a deferment to finish farming and touring with my band before being deployed to Washington. While in Thailand, I worked by being a plumber for the military, meaning I built barracks for soldiers, roads and constructed bridges.”

Kaluza served in the 809th engineer corp and was awarded a pin for serving with engineers and the army accommodation medal.

Also interviewed by Texan News was Matthew Hannum, who served for 20 years in the United States Army. During his time in the army, he served at Fort Drum in New York, San Diego, California and Iraq.

Hannum followed others in his family who served in the military, including his father, John Hannum, his grandfather, Rodrick Gass and his uncle, Lloyd Marr. Photo Courtesy of Matthew Hannum.

When asked what Independence Day meant to him, Hannum said, “Freedom for my country is very important to me and every male served in my family, from World War II to current.”

Hannum was also asked about why he decided to join the military.

“I wanted to continue family tradition, serve my country and bring freedom to others,” Hannum replied.

In regards to Independence Day specifically, Hannum also discussed a quote that meant a lot to him and described what the holiday meant.

The quote from P. McCree Thorton says, “To those who have fought for it, freedom has a flavor that the protected will never know.”

The last interview with Texan News was from Johnny Teal. He served in the Air Force for about 8 and half years serving in security as a policeman and in emergency services. While serving in the Air Force, Teal was stationed at the Kelly Field base and in Kosan, North Korea. Teal also served in Desert Storm during the Gulf War.

When asked why Teal decided to join the AirForce, he stated, “Along with it being steady income, I am very patriotic and wanted to serve my country. At that point, the only other time someone had served in my family was my great grandfather in the Navy.”

Teal was also asked about what July Fourth meant to him; he said, “To me as a kid, it meant fireworks and having a good time. But serving, you realize how difficult it is and the sacrifices you are making.”

Teal continued saying, “It also means a lot to me because of the previous wars that we have had and all of those who have fought and died for this country. Serving made me realize the hardships that both the family and military men go through, but we do it for America to have freedom. My perspective really changed when I served in Saudi Arabia because I realized how great we have it here in the United States.”

Teal also mentioned that serving also provided a lot of different opportunities to travel and work with different branches of the military which made the experience very valuable.

In honoring this special holiday and recognizing all that has been given for our country, Stephenville will be hosting a Fourth of July Celebration on July 3. The day will include several events including a parade, BBQ cookoff, car show, the Texstar Summer Concert and a firework show to end the night.

Schedule of the events taking place in Stephenville.
Photo Courtesy of the

The event will take place at the city park and more information can be found at

Texan News would like to wish you a happy Fourth of July and thank all those that have served and continue to serve for our country.

Disclaimer: John Kaluza Jr. is the grandfather of Taylor Kaluza

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