The two "to our troops" banners, one on its way to Kuwait, the other to the Baghdad unit of Vienna resident, Peter Shoemaker, were covered with caring sentiments. Young people, older people, all made note that their thoughts and prayers were with those who put themselves in harm’s way.
"You can never take freedom and liberty for granted," said Gerry Connolly, chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. "The commitment to freedom and liberty has to be refreshed every generation."
Town Council member Edythe Kelleher has a personal interest in the banner on its way to the 1st TSC unit in Kuwait. Kelleher’s sister, Col. Judith Lemire, a 26-year army veteran, is stationed there.
"I hope everyone has a good time here today, enjoying themselves, but I hope they think about the meaning of July 4 ... remember the people who go and fight for us to be free so we can enjoy days like this."
The Shoemaker family, greeting all who came to sign the banner for the 509th Airborne Infantry, son Peter’s unit, thanked the Town of Vienna for extending the courtesy to them.
"The Town — and the Connection — made this happen," Peter’s father, Cliff Shoemaker, said. He also thanked the banner signers whose support means so much to them. Shoemaker was gratified that dignitaries sent prayers and thanks to his son and his unit, and to the troops in Kuwait, as well.
Dana Sladek, whose family has come to the Vienna 4th of July celebration for 10 years, signed the banner because "it was a good thing to do."
For the Thompson and Allen families, the 4th of July celebration is a family tradition, having come to it for years and years. They love the festival but look deeper into the meaning of the date. The 4th of July reminds us of our troops, patriotism, and support for our nation, said Nannette Allen, whose nephew is in Iraq.
"The important thing people should take back with them today is to be thankful for our freedoms," said Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins. "We need to see and be appreciative of what we have today."