Gabrielle Atrado, 12, rings the bell in honor of the 13 original British colonies during a bell-ringing ceremony to celebrate Independence Day at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8577 in Copperas Cove.

While others were gathering with their families and headed to local lakes and rivers to celebrate Independence Day, members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8577 in Copperas Cove conducted a bell-ringing ceremony.

“Every year the VFW and many veteran organizations have a bell-ringing ceremony to commemorate Independence Day,” said Karen Taylor, president of the Ladies Auxiliary of VFW Post 8577.

Two Junior Girls of the Ladies Auxiliary participated in the ceremony, which is designed to remind citizens of the 13 colonies’ independence from British rule and the colonists’ actions leading to the founding of the United States.

As Elizabeth Sawyer, 10, read the names of the 13 colonies, Gabrielle “Gabby” Atrado, 12, rang the bell after each name. Gabby, president of the Junior Girls, said she enjoys being a member of the organization because it allows her to serve veterans.

“My dad is a veteran,” she said.

Elizabeth Sawyer, secretary and treasurer, also likes helping people.

“I have family members in the military,” she said. “My sister is in Afghanistan right now.”

Before the bell-ringing, Joe Kucze, dressed in a period uniform, fired a single shot from a homemade cannon.

“I built the cannon, which is a replica, from the original 1841 blueprints,” he said. “It took two years to complete it.”

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