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Amid the fireworks and fun, honor guardians of freedom

Freedom isn’t free. A special section, “Honoring Our Nation’s Heroes,” reminds us of the people who put their lives on the line to guard America’s freedom. Keep them in mind this Fourth of July.

Published: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

As we prepare to celebrate America’s freedom on Independence Day, it’s fitting to remind ourselves that freedom isn’t free.

Many suffered and died on the battlefield to protect our freedom.

The struggle continues. Our military men and women bear the brunt of it. The toll affects their physical, mental, emotional, and economic health.

In “Honoring Our Nation’s Heroes,” a special section that appears today, Sauk Valley Media profiles some of the people who have protected their country’s freedom, now and in the past.

One story describes a former Marine who has learned to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. He hopes his experience inspires others to seek help.

The Sterling Veterans Administration clinic is a big success story, according to a local Korean War veteran. The facility has improved medical care for many area vets.

Landing a job after the military can be a problem for some veterans. A program launched by Kreider Services helps translate military skills to civilian jobs. Kreider deserves thanks for its devotion to veterans.

Two servicemen who were injured in the line of duty are profiled. Readers can catch up on Army Spc. Michael Shoemaker Jr. of Eldena and Marine Lance Cpl. Adam Devine of Dixon.

Also profiled are a Rock Falls native, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brandon Bright, who is part of the elite Thunderbirds squad, and Marine Pfc. Austin VanDerLeest, who talks about his respect for his late grandfather, an Air Force veteran of the Korean War.

Updates on area veterans memorial parks round out the section. Of particular interest is the upcoming visit to the Dixon Veterans Memorial Park of the Illinois Fallen Heroes Memorial Wall on July 6-7.

Reading about freedom’s protectors should help people appreciate their freedom all the more as the Fourth of July approaches.

On Independence Day, let’s celebrate freedom – and its guardians.

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