On Independence Day, We Remember that “Freedom is Not Free”

For the past seven years, President Obama and his family have celebrated the Fourth of July with members of the armed forces, veterans, and their families. This year, the United Service Organizations (USO) – a partner of the Joining Forces Initiative – is observing its 75th anniversary across 180 locations around the world, including the Middle East, Europe, Asia, the South Pacific, and of course at the White House.

The USO will host a special program on the South Lawn featuring remarks from the President, performances by Grammy-award winning musical guests, and a dazzling fireworks display. You can tune in to share the fun at Whitehouse.gov/Fourth-of-July.

In honor of Independence Day and those who fight to keep our nation safe, let's take a look back at a few moments this Administration has celebrated with the USO and our service members.

Without you, we could not enjoy the incredible blessings that we do in this greatest country on Earth. And we are so appreciative to all of you…And Michelle and I, Malia, Sasha — we could not be more privileged to have gotten to know so many of you, and to know all the sacrifices that you make on our behalf each and every day. So we just want to wish you the happiest 4th of July and remind ourselves that freedom is not free — it’s paid by all the folks who are here today and all the folks who are around the world. We want to thank those who aren’t with their families on this holiday season because they’re posted overseas. We want to especially remember them.

President Obama at the 4th of July celebration in 2015

 

 

USO volunteers are there to say good-bye to our warriors as they deploy. And they’re the first ones to welcome them home when they return. It matters. I know it mattered to our son, Beau. He, after a year in Iraq, set foot on American soil at the Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire, there was a long line of warriors standing there to salute his brigade as they got off, to say thank you, thank you, thank you. They represented everything from World War II to the Korean War, to Iraqi Freedom. And you know, he said — and it always surprised me when people would ask me about it — he said it was the most meaningful thing that happened to us, he said, getting off that plane and seeing everybody just standing there. It was the middle of the night. Just saying, welcome home.

The Vice President at the Anniversary Celebration of Joining Forces and USO

 

Dr. Jill Biden gives remarks at a USO Reception at the Naval Observatory Residence in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Jill Biden gives remarks at a USO Reception at the Naval Observatory Residence in Washington, D.C., Oct. 19, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

 

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden join USO honorees for a group photo in the Blue Room of the White House

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden join USO honorees for a group photo in the Blue Room of the White House, Oct. 25, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

 

The First Lady joins children in an American flag art project at the USO Warrior and Family Center in Ft. Belvoir

The First Lady joins children in an American flag art project at the USO Warrior and Family Center in Ft. Belvoir, Va. Sept. 11, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

 

First Lady Michelle Obama greets USO honorees and their families in the Vermeil Room of the White House

First Lady Michelle Obama greets USO honorees and their families in the Vermeil Room of the White House, Oct. 5, 2011 (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

 

President Barack Obama visits soldiers at the USO at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany

President Barack Obama visits soldiers at the USO at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany on June 5, 2009.  (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

 

President Obama and the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers pack care packages for distribution by the USO during an event on the South Lawn

President Obama and the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers pack care packages for distribution by the USO during an event on the South Lawn of the White House May 21, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Dana Frayne is an intern in the Office of Digital Strategy.