July 4 is the time where families and friends get together to celebrate the anniversary of this nation’s freedom. But this weekend, with social distancing measures in place and many community events canceled, the Tompkins County Department of Veterans Services (TCDVS) and Team Red, White, and Blue-Ithaca (Team RWB) want to make sure the nation’s military Veterans are not forgotten.
“We’re still disappointed COVID-19 canceled the public ceremonies around Tompkins where we traditionally gather to honor our fallen heroes,” said J.R. Clairborne, director of TCDVS. “We really want everyone to take a moment during their festivities to reflect on what the price of freedom and independence truly means and who has paid that price for the rest of us to enjoy.”
The pandemic has brought in recent weeks loss, social isolation and distancing, a slowed economy, plus rallies and protests calling attention to the continued fight for Civil Rights. The two entities know people just want to get out and celebrate summer and July 4. Because of all of that, TCDVS, Team RWB and the Ithaca Voice invite Tompkins residents to share their pictures or short videos that explain “How do you celebrate — or observe — freedom and independence this year?”
The idea for this call-for-images came up during a recent session of the Virtual Veterans Coffeehouse, the co-sponsored event by TCDVS and Team RWB that brings Veterans together to meet other Vets, check-in with each other and learn about local happenings for Tompkins’ community of Veterans.
“As a Marriage and Family Therapist and Veteran, I know the need for Veteran social connections cannot be understated,” said Elizabeth Golden, who also serves as Team RWB’s Social Chair. “Many Veterans report loneliness and isolation and today we need these connections even more given current public health and social issues.”
During this coffeehouse session, while lamenting the current loss of big gatherings, the idea came up to encourage get-togethers in small groups. They also want to invite readers to send in pictures or short videos of their picnics, celebrations, rallies, somber moments or other gatherings in observance of July 4. A selection of these will be shared on the website of the Ithaca Voice next week.
“One Veteran thought it would be great to have pictures of people acknowledging our fallen Veterans. Another added it could be helpful to others to encourage and see small gatherings to be part of a bigger celebration. Still another Veteran wondered how many people know what rights and liberties the nation’s Constitution actually grants and what so many people have fought and died for,” Clairborne said. “We all thought it would be great if everyone could share these local images to still feel part of the larger community, even when we’re in groups of 10 people or less.”
Tompkins County Department of Veterans Services aims to connect Veterans, active duty military, and their families with eligible federal, state, and local services. Team RWB-Ithaca seeks to enrich the lives of Veterans across Tompkins County by connecting them to their community through physical and social activities.
Send your July 4 images or 30-second video clip to the Ithaca Voice at firstname.lastname@example.org. Selected images and videos will be featured next week on IthacaVoice.com