NEWTON, Iowa -- Independence Day means a lot of things: hot dogs on the grill, parades, fireworks, and time with friends and family.
It also means looking back at the sacrifices veterans made in order for us to enjoy that independence.
“They all rose their right hand at one time and promised, 'I will defend my country at all costs,'” said Marvin Morris, a Korean War veteran.
At the American Legion in Newton, veterans of all ages were given a free lunch and reflected on what Independence Day means to them.
“It means a lot of things, to me it's kind of a combination of Independence Day and Veterans Day. If it wasn't for the veterans, we wouldn't have Independence Day,” said Morris.
Morris said it's also a time to look back on America’s first veterans--those who fought in the revolution to gain our independence in the first place.
“Just to think of the courage that it took for those people to come over here and almost immediately find out that their country was going to be taken by the mother country again just shows a great deal of resilience and courage,” said Morris.
For Kathy Patterson, the wife and mother of veterans, it's a time to take stock of what servicemen and women sign up for.
“We don't realize how much of a sacrifice they've given in their lives to do this, and then the ones who have given all, the ones that have lost their lives through this...sometimes we just take that for granted,” said Patterson.
What veterans say they don’t take for granted is a simple thank you.
Delmar Van Wky, a Vietnam War veteran, became choked up when he spoke about it.
“I've had a lot of them come up and say, 'hey, thanks for being a veteran'. I mean that,” said Van Wky.
The free lunch at the American Legion was co-sponsored by the Newton Elks Lodge.