Story and photos by Samantha B. Koss
Bright bursts of red, white and blue fireworks lit the dark, cloudy skies above Ironhorse Park Sunday as Fort Carson celebrated Independence Day.
The federal holiday commemorates the July 4, 1776, adoption of the Declaration of Independence, which loosened the tight bonds of Great Britain. Since then, Americans have celebrated the national holiday with patriotic displays.
The virtues and beliefs which were fought for in 1776 are kept alive today by the Americans who dedicate their lives to serving their country.
The significance of the holiday is cherished and celebrated every year on military installations across the country by these guardians of freedom.
“The military makes this event more special than other places,” said Mac Kemp, director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. “It’s full of pride and care.”
On Sunday, patriotism exuded from Ironhorse Park as Soldiers and their Families celebrated the Fourth of July event with music, food and a fireworks show.
Fort Carson opened its gates offering the civilian community an opportunity to observe the holiday with their military counterparts.
“We are bringing the Front Range community in to bond with our troops and celebrate the independence of our nation,” said Col. Robert F. McLaughlin, garrison commander. “The more the merrier.”
Between 10,000 and 14,000 people were expected to attend the event, Kemp said.
“The event has a reputation of being a very good (show), but there’s no doubt about it, Colorado Springs loves the
Army … and loves what (Fort) Carson stands for,” Kemp said.
Everything the post does in partnership with the civilian community is an opportunity to bond, McLaughlin said.
Military or civilian, guests dressed in traditional American flag colors and came prepared for a late afternoon of food and fun hosted by DFMWR.
Children spent their first few hours exploring the many outdoor activities. Some stopped to enjoy a hop in the bouncy houses while others opted for some action on the paintball course.
A large, paper flag hung on a tent for people to write short messages to deployed Soldiers.
“Every year a flag goes to a deployed company … it is meant to give support and well wishes to the troops,” said Mike Seagol, volunteer with Missions Possible.
This year the flag will go to Soldiers with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, who are deployed to Afghanistan. Messages such as “Stay safe” and “We miss you dad” covered the flag throughout the evening.
Many families make the Fort Carson Fourth of July event their traditional holiday celebration.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Wolf, 4th BCT, 4th Inf. Div., enjoyed the festivities with his wife, Molly Wolf, and their two children.
“We have been coming every year since 2006,” Molly Wolf said.
This year is special for their Family because Christopher Wolf is scheduled to deploy next year and will miss the Fourth of July holiday.
“Knowing he will be deployed next year makes this year more important for us,” Molly Wolf said as the Family stood in line at a food stand.
Vendors provided festival favorites to keep patriots’ bellies full. Gobbling on
a turkey leg and quenching their thirst with a cool glass of lemonade, guests sat at picnic tables or on blankets in the grass listening to the Ivy Division Band and enjoying the warm weather with which the day began.
Clouds rolled in for a few minutes of downpour as attendees rushed for cover in the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Gazebo or under tents. The showers passed and a rainbow formed, luring people out of their hiding spots to prepare for the anticipated fireworks show.
“We are really excited to see the fireworks show … that’s the best part of the Fourth,” said Rachel Jones, who attended the event with her daughter, Gabby, 3.
Couples cuddled under blankets while others brought folding chairs to watch the view. The 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th BCT, 4th Inf. Div., began the show with a 50-gun salute.
Patriotic songs played as fireworks were launched 800 feet or more above the guests’ heads.
“This was a great way to celebrate the Fourth,” said Jones as the fireworks show ended around 10 p.m.
Rain or shine, the event went on to provide colorful fireworks, entertainment and quality family time for the community to honor an important day in American history.