Independence Day: The real meaning for veterans

8:37 PM, Jul 4, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- For many veterans, July 4 takes on a different, more solemn meaning than fireworks shows and barbecues.

Navy veteran Paul DeWalt says this Independence Day is one he'll certainly remember. He's going home after a few weeks at Louis B. Stokes Veterans Affairs Hospital, where he has been treated for lung cancer.

His plans? "Just relax and be glad to be home. Maybe get out and put a steak on the grill if I can," said DeWalt.

July 4 has always had significance, especially after he was based in Pearl Harbor in the 1950s, with the sunken USS Arizona out his window.

"Every morning I got up, you could see 3,000 people buried out there. That was quite a reminder," he said. "Most guys don't consider themselves anything but doing service for their country and that's all we thought about. And I still do today."

But other things have changed for veterans. Michael Lucas, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, says the mood toward those in uniform has shifted.

"Thank you, you know what, we get that now. Before, when I came home, we didn't any thanks. At all. So I appreciate that now," said Lucas.

He says he hopes all Americans appreciate what a great country we call home.

"We have a lot of problems, but we do have freedoms that we have to express ourselves. Our thoughts, our opinions, we can travel where we want to go," he said.

And when you see the Stars and Stripes, "Just show appreciation for what we have," said Lucas.

WKYC-TV

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