Let freedom ring

A celebration of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

Written by Julie Schillings | Infograph by Visual Fusion Graphic Design

On America's most patriotic holiday, we celebrate with fireworks, parades and backyard barbecues. Beyond the sparklers and revelry, the Fourth of July is an opportunity to reflect on the vision our nation's founders established for this great country.

Approved by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence announced to the world that the United States of America was a sovereign nation a new country the land of the free.

Freedom is a word that embodies many meanings to many different people: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from debt, abuse or addiction, freedom to choose.

What does freedom mean to you?

"Freedom is an inherent, God-given right to all people. I am thankful to live in a country where freedom and democracy are celebrated as pillars of value." JEFF LONGWELL, MAYOR OF WICHITA.

Mayor Longwell was elected to office in April 2015. He is a long-time resident of Wichita where he attended West High School and Wichita State University. Mayor Longwell's goals and objectives are to move the City of Wichita forward by promoting economic development among city and county lines, generating jobs and creating a business friendly environment.

"Growing up in our great, free country, we only know the perils and terrors of dictatorships and tyranny from a distance. Liberty is the great gift to America and Americans, allowing for our collective and individual pursuit of happiness. When it is threatened, we rise as its best defenders for we understand its value, and we can imagine the horror of its loss." FREDDY SIMON, WORLD WAR II VETERAN, FREDDY'S FROZEN CUSTARD AND STEAKBURGERS.

Freddy grew up on a farm near Colwich, Kan., and signed up for the infantry in the U.S. Army at the first opportunity. After years of fighting in places around the Pacific Rim during World War II, Freddy earned the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his service, and returned home safely. Following World War II, he worked hard for 56 years while raising his family. Freddy believes he is "the luckiest man in the world." In between his visits to high school history classes, Freddy actively participates in veterans groups and takes part in World War II memorial events across the United States.

"Freedom means the opportunity to do what is best for your life. My goal in founding Midwest Battle Buddies is to give back the freedom that our veterans gave up. Returning home from deployment does not always mean the fighting ends. Some veterans suffer from physical disabilities, flashbacks, nightmares or PTSD. Giving them these dogs has proven results by lowering medication, lowering depression, and some who would not leave their house have now graduated from college. They've regained their freedom." TONEY TURNER, ARMY VETERAN, FOUNDER OF MIDWEST BATTLE BUDDIES, INC.

Midwest Battle Buddies is a non-profit organization dedicated to matching highly trained psychiatric and mobility service dogs with veterans suffering from service related disabilities or injuries at no cost to the veteran. Toney is pictured with Air Force veteran Roslyn Longmire and her certified service dog, Bubba. Formerly a rescue dog, Bubba is now trained in PTSD and seizure alert.

Steve & Nola

Historic quotes from world leaders convey valuable messages about personal and political freedom.

"Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err." MAHATMA GANDHI

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." NELSON MANDELA

"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves." ABRAHAM LINCOLN

"Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry is own weight, this is a frightening prospect." ELEANOR ROOSEVELT

"A freedom that only asks what's in it for me, a freedom without commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense." BARACK OBAMA

Steve & Nola

Red, white and boom!

Celebrate Independence Day in downtown Wichita at a community event hosted by the Wichita Parks Foundation and sponsored by Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers. Festivities will take place downtown on the Hyatt Lawn, the Lewis Street Bridge

Monday, July 4 from 5:00 10:30 P.M.

Beer garden and food trucks will be parked in front of the Hyatt Regency
The Astronauts, a local dance band, will perform a free concert at 7:00 p.m.
Red, White & BOOM! Fireworks show over the Arkansas River begins at 9:45 p.m.
In addition to fireworks over the river, there will be low-level pyrotechnics fired from two barges in the river and two static displays on the west bank
Music accompanying the show can be heard throughout the festival area

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