By Airman 1st Class William Tracy
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — July marks a pivotal day in U.S. history, a date Americans at home and abroad celebrate in the same theme of red, white and blue.
Members of the 50th Space Wing are no exception.
Throughout the wing’s history, from its World War II origins as a fighter wing, to its contemporary role as a leading force in the ever-evolving space warfighting realm, July is a date honored every year, in the midst of war and in times of peace.
While July 2, 1776 was the day America declared independence, it was on July 4th the Second Continental Congress approved the declaration, a definitive point where the congress, Continental Army and other rebels to the crown showed their will to take up arms against tyranny.
Airmen throughout the Air Force continue to uphold the values of America’s founding fathers – values of freedom, individual rights and national pride. Today, the 50th SW serves as a continuation of these ideals, through its mission of evolving space and warfighting superiority through integrated and innovated operations.
James Mesco, historian for the 50th SW, shared the wing’s history in correlation with the date.
“Starting in 1941, with America’s entry into WWII, America’s society began to increasingly celebrate the fourth of July to reinforce the idea of independent nations and democracy,” he said. “When Gen. George Patton was moving across France liberating portions of the country from Nazi occupation around the July timeframe, the 50th Fighter Group was involved in numerous operations providing vital close air support.”
Mesco said the wing’s transitionary period after the war in 1953, where planes and personnel were being relocated to Hahn Air Base in Germany, fell around July as well.
“All these assets were moving from the United States to Europe,” he added. “Twice during the wing’s history, Fourth of July celebrations had to be put on hold for major world events involving the wing.”
During the U.S. bicentennial celebration in 1976, the installation’s newspaper, the Hahn Hawk; featured a double page collage complete with depictions of American’s founding fathers in recognition.
In the later portion of the 20th century and early 21st century, the location of what is now Schriever AFB has had a host of small Fourth of July celebrations, increasing with the introduction of on base housing.
Now, decades away from America’s tricentennial, the tradition of celebrating the date of America’s independence remains within the 50th SW and throughout the country.
Rick Sturdevant, deputy director of history with headquarters Air Force Space Command, highlighted the importance service members have preserving the unalienable rights the founding fathers famously stated in the declaration – “the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
“Service members, past and present, remember the enduring legacy of those intrepid patriots who fought during 1775-1783 for independence, and they recall the many times when later Americans have been called to preserve that independence in the face threats from enemies abroad,” he said. “By wearing the uniform, they declare themselves ready to oppose any foe who would impose tyranny on them and their nation.”
Above all the simmering grills, colorful decorations and fireworks, the Fourth of July is a time to celebrate and reflect on the role all service members, whether it be Airman, Soldier, Marine, Sailor or Department of Defense civilian or contractor, has upholding America’s freedoms.