Have a safe, memorable Independence Day Published June 29, 2016 By Chaplain (Maj) Thad Todd 161st Air Refueling Wing Chaplain's Office PHOENIX -- Independence Day is only a few days away. This year will mark 240 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In 1776, the Continental Congress declared the thirteen colonies in America as a new nation, separate from the British empire. Independence Day was the beginning of a birth of a new nation and as joyous as a birth is, it also comes with many cares, concerns and sleepless nights. Our country's founders had many struggles as they fought for the freedom of a new nation. Today, our country has different struggles as we try to maintain the freedom that originated 240 years ago. It is important that we never forget why we celebrate the 4th of July. Over the years, there have been many customs and traditions associated with this celebration. In recent history, events such as parades, fireworks, barbeques and inspiring music are just a few of the ways people celebrate Independence Day. As I reflect on my childhood, these traditions were all part of enjoying this holiday. My memories are not just of activities but the people who shared those events with me. The food and fun times of July 4th aren't the only things that make those days memorable. The family and friends that were a part of my life made those memories sweeter. As you plan your activities make sure that you celebrate them with those that you care about. Enjoy your holiday weekend by using all the fun activities to make memories with the people in your life. Have a safe and memorable holiday!