Grand Independence celebration on Fort Sill

FORT SILL, OK--A small, but enthusiastic and patriotic crowd turned out for Fort Sill's annual Fourth of July celebration held in front of McNair Hall.

The ceremony honored all fifty states with state flags on display and a fifty gun salute.  The loudest ovation was for Oklahoma, but Major General David Ralston and his family did their best to give his home state of Utah a louder ovation.

General Ralston, presiding over his final 4th of July celebration before he retires, told the crowd the day is more than just hot dogs, fireworks, and time spent at the lake.

"It (American democracy) was a grand experiment," General Ralston said,  "one of great risk and of great sacrifice."

He reminded those gathered that the Founding Fathers faced execution if caught by the British and many sacrificed their personal fortunes and happiness, so that Americans of their generation and generations since could enjoy the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

"Centuries from now I'm confident that our successors in our great and noble experiment will celebrate with the same commitment that we do today," he said.

In attendance was Mike Dooley who dressed, as in years past, as Uncle Sam.  Dooley said he came to hear the great words, great music and salute the states.

"I think it's still strong," Dooley said when asked if patriotism in the United States was waning.  "Come out to these ceremonies like this and you'll find out it's still strong."