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Welcome, welcome everyone to another Independence Day picnic. Today we commemorate the courage of our forefathers who in 1776 through acts of bravery and self sacrifice guaranteed us the freedoms that we now see as our basic human rights. Those rights are still being protected, every hour every day, by our United States Military. Iâ€™ve spent weeks planning this party; the decorations, the food, the flowers. Because I want it to be perfect, perfect for all of us. Thatâ€™s what I do, thatâ€™s what I love to do. This has been one of the most extraordinary weeks of my life. I feel both devastated and elated. Today I also feel shaken, I feel shaken by what has happened, wondering if I did enough, if I said enough could have changed the outcome. I married a committed military man. And I have loved this military life. I have also had to put my personal opinions aside, to truly understand that our defenders of freedom are fighting a bigger battle. Not a political one, there battle goes beyond politics. Beyond religion, race or gender. There the defenders for us all. There the defenders of our differences. As one soldier is taken away from us, another returns to us. Thereâ€™s balance in the universe, a natural system of order. Look beside each soldier and you will find the people who fight with them. The spouses, the sons the daughters the families, we serve too. Their victories are our victories, there defeats are our defeats. Together we fight for our freedom. For 18 years I have tried to be the perfect wife and mother. Each day I disappoint myself. Human life isnâ€™t about perfection, it is about accepting the flawed, the misguided parts of ourselves. We keep trying, we keep loving, we keep believing. I am proud of the role we play in maintaining piece in our country and in the world. I am proud to stand beside a man whose integrity shines like a diamond in the dust. And I am proud to call myself an army wife.Claudia Joy Holden