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These stories describe an abundance of sacrifice and commitment to protecting freedom.

Celebrate Freedom Award logo
Posted on Jul 4, 2020, 7:30:00 PM GMT

We were inspired by the stories, photos, and videos we received. The stories of active duty service members, veterans, and their families deserve to be told. Every story, video, and photo detailed unique examples of heroism, patriotism, and pride — many passed on from generation to generation. Please join us in congratulating Dani D. of Huntsville, Alabama who took home a prize of $15,000, which was awarded on Independence Day. We hope you enjoy excerpts of her story and others as much as we did:

Dani D. and her brother Henry M.

Dan D. and her brother Henry M taking a picture together smiling.

"I was deployed to Afghanistan in October 2011 at the age of 19 and completed my service in December 2014. In addition, my brother SPC Henry Mayfield Jr. served in the AFRICOM operation to eliminate the Al Shabaab terrorist threat in Africa. My brother’s heroic death and my experience in military service demonstrate that freedom originates from finding individual purpose in service to the community to ensure all people enjoy their lives without fear or discrimination. I believe freedom means an individual can act freely without physical, psychological, or environmental limitations. Eliminating threats such as terror and conflict empower people to experience freedom and enjoy their lives. Finding purpose helps an individual realize that they cannot thrive or achieve freedom in an unsafe environment. My service in the military helped me become more intentional and free to take actions without any form of hindrance or limitation. Freedom empowered me to honor local Afghan communities through my service."

Dani D. and her story were featured during the Wawa Welcome America Celebration, broadcasted from Philadelphia on NBC10 and TeleXitos on July 4, 2020. If you missed it, follow us on Facebook to see the video replay.

Henry M., Army

Photo of Henry in Uniform

Jodi K., Air Force

"Freedom is for all. Not just for the strong, who can protect their own freedom, but for all the sick, the weak, the hungry, and the trampled upon."

Angela W., Army

"I define freedom as never having to worry about my children's future because I know for the better part of my life I have fought for this country."

Nathan H., Army

"Freedom to me, is the freedom to choose who we want to serve, what we want to say and how we want to pay."

Brian G., Air Force

"My family and I have been committed patriots to our country. Our unique family history shows the American journey through struggles and triumphs to stay committed to the ideal of America and the boundless possibilities to succeed."

Edward K., Army

"Freedom to me means having the ability to stand up for others stand up for those who can't defend themselves and to fight for a cause that is bigger than just one person."

Miko T., Army

"Freedom to me means a secure way of life that has been preserved by the men and women who wear the uniform both abroad and within the continental United States."

Dave O., Army

"Freedom to me is having a choice for the future. It is the ability to work incredibly hard to achieve something better, without limits of your age or previous career choices or the fact that your parents hadn’t graduated college."

Dan B., Army

[On his conversation with an Iraqi soldier while serving as a chaplain.] "Though we were on opposite sides of the battlefield, he taught me true love, compassion and the value of friendship."

William C., Army

"To me, freedom is the right, honor, and responsibility to serve others, and be supported by others in times of need; to speak your mind, and consider the views of others if you wish; to vote, and to support our Nation regardless of who is elected; to worship, and to respect the right of others to worship differently; and to prosper, and to fail but try again."

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