Military personnel from RAF Lakenheath and Mildenhall on Independence Day and how they are celebrating

The American flag on display at the Fourth of July celebrations which used to be held at RAF Feltwel

The American flag on display at the Fourth of July celebrations which used to be held at RAF Feltwell. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Independence Day is the most important national holiday in the United States.

A 1965 Ford Mustang convertible sits near a F-15 Strike Eagle at RAF Lakenheath for their Wings and

A 1965 Ford Mustang convertible sits near a F-15 Strike Eagle at RAF Lakenheath for their Wings and Wheel event held to celebrate Independance Day. Picture: Tech Sgt Matthew Plew - Credit: Archant

It is a celebration of the history of the country - when the 13 colonies claimed their freedom from the British on July 4 1776 - and a time to spend with family and friends.

Some of the 7,000-plus United States Air Force servicemen and women stationed at RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall are spending their Fourth of July away from their families.

Here they tell us why they celebrate the day, what it means to them and the traditions they have at home and have adopted while living in the region.

Fourth of July celebrations which used to be held at RAF Feltwell. Picture: Simon Parkin

Fourth of July celebrations which used to be held at RAF Feltwell. Picture: Simon Parkin - Credit: Archant


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1st Lt Elias, 28, from Arizona

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'I love Independence Day. It's a time to think about our history and all the great things that the United States stands for. It's a reminder to look back at how far we have come over more than two centuries as a nation.

A couple poses in front of their classic car during the Wings and Wheels event at RAF Lakenheath to

A couple poses in front of their classic car during the Wings and Wheels event at RAF Lakenheath to celebrate Independance Day. Picture: Senior Airman Nigel Sandridge - Credit: Archant

'My dad was on active duty for 32 years, so my family has celebrated Independence Day outside of the US many times. We always managed to find some slice of America where ever we were to help mark the occasion.

'My fondest memories, and what probably defines Independence Day for me most, are of fireworks. Driving out wherever the biggest display would be just enjoying the lights and sounds. Plus, I've always loved the cheesy patriotic music that's played those types of shows.

'As a kid, I never had to plan anything myself, so this will be a first for me. My wife and I plan on enjoying some delicious pub food and, hopefully, some sunny weather.'

Fourth of July celebrations which used to be held at RAF Feltwell. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Fourth of July celebrations which used to be held at RAF Feltwell. Picture: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2010

Tech Sgt Matthew, 33, from California

'I am overwhelmingly surprised that our local communities want to celebrate our independence with us, given the history. But, I think it's awesome that we've come so far as two nations, as partners and allies, now that the local community wants to celebrate our day of independence as if it was a day of their own. It's tremendous.

'I don't think there is anything that could make you feel more welcome in a foreign country than its community wanting to celebrate your nation's independence. I think it's fantastic.

'As Americans we are a melting pot society of immigrants who have come from all over the world to build one great nation and I think you can't celebrate American Independence Day without being open to those new possibilities and those new experience and embracing new and diverse cultures.'

Senior Airman Elizabeth, 25, from Arizona

'Who doesn't like the 4th of July? I think it is meaningful to most Americans and anyone enjoying our nation's freedom. The food is amazing and who doesn't like fireworks? It's a very American event because of the huge mix of cultures that come together to celebrate.

'Back home in America, we usually barbecue and watch the fireworks. I think freedom is a really big thing for Americans; it's what makes us who we are and I think as Americans we know the taste of freedom and people fight hard when they know that.

'It's important to take a day and remember what it took to get that and celebrate it. We're in the military and we have our military family so nothing really changes. You can always celebrate Independence Day in your heart too - you don't need fireworks to enjoy the day.

'I'll have a little celebration with close friends and eat lots of coleslaw.'

Airman 1st Class Eli, 21, from Wisconsin

'Being a part of the military you realize what is being fought for, what's so precious about it and the sacrifices that are made for it. Independence Day helps you remember that.

'I absolutely love Independence Day. I think it is a great holiday and it's a great time to come around and celebrate with friends the amazing country that we call home.

'My favourite part of Independence Day is celebrating with friends and family and just spending time together. We're on an American run military installation so celebrating here isn't that different.

'We have food and our friends, but we do miss our families. Last year was my first Fourth of July without my family and that was kind of disappointing, but I'll have plenty more to spend with them.

'A few fourth of Julys without spending time with friends and family back home is worth it in the end for what we do in the military - protecting freedom.'

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