As our nation celebrates its 238th birthday, we've learned the hard way, time and again, that freedom isn't free. Just ask Jerry Weed, who jumped into Normandy on D-Day and spent Independence Day 1944 helping liberate France.
Weed, who's 95 now, jumped into France with the 82nd Airborne Division. He says today that he can't remember what he did yesterday, but he remembers every detail of June 6, 1944.
Just like so many men and women who joined the military with a desire to defend their country after 9/11, the same was true with the Greatest Generation after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
“That was Sunday afternoon that he found out and Monday he quit his job and went down and joined the Army,” Jerry's son Bill said.
Bill doesn't claim his dad Jerry is perfect but he will tell you but he is a hero. After D-Day, Jerry participated in Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge. He received two Bronze Stars and was wounded twice in combat.
70 years after Jerry jumped into France, his son wanted to make sure his dedication as an Army paratrooper and a father never goes unnoticed.
“He has done so much for us. His family and for his country,” Bill said.
That is why Bill decided that this Fourth of July would be one his dad never forgets.
“He's proud to be a paratrooper, so he'll buy anything, and he has these little flags in his apartment and I'm like these things need to be shown, they need to fly,” Bill said.
So he erected a flag pole in his front yard so his dad's flags could do just that and Friday, Bill and his son hung his dad's flags as Jerry looked on, his eyes filled with tears.
“I'm going to fly them all year long you know, and honor my dad long after he's gone,” Bill said.
When Bill asked his dad if he remembered where he was on July 4, 1944, less than a month after he'd jumped into France, Jerry said simply, “I know where I wasn't. I wasn't home.”
Thank you to all men and women who serving away from home this Independence Day like Bill was 70 years ago.