I attended the big Fourth of July parade in Belton last weekend, and it was great to see soldiers from the Netherlands marching in the parade.

The Dutch soldiers train in five-week rotations on Apaches and Chinooks at Fort Hood’s Air Assault School. About 200 Dutch soldiers and airmen are currently stationed at Fort Hood, and it looked like all of them marched in the parade on Belton’s Main Street.

I think some people scratched their heads when the soldiers marched by, mistaking them for French soldiers because of the similarity with the Dutch and French flags.

The soldiers from the Netherlands were near the front of the parade, behind grand marshal and 1st Cavalry Division commander Maj. Gen. Michael Bills, along with the 1st Cavalry band and horse detachment, a crowd favorite.

Later, a group of the Dutch soldiers came and watched the last half of the parade near where I was sitting. I think some football players in the parade mistook them for American soldiers, because the players all got off their float and shook hands with each soldier, thanking them for the service. Either way, it was a nice gesture.

July 4 is always a great day to be an American. And, for soldiers, it usually means a four-day weekend.

When I was in the Army, I always loved the Fourth of July weekend. I would always drive back to my adopted hometown of San Angelo to party with friends and family. That’s really what it is about —celebrating America with those you care about.

Tragically, those celebrations don’t always end up without injury.

Early Monday, there was a bad accident south of Killeen that claimed the life of a Fort Hood soldier, and as of press time, another soldier was in critical condition. You can read more details about that later this week in the Killeen Daily Herald.

It’s a tragedy whenever something like that happens, and the fact that it happened on a holiday weekend makes it seem even worse.

July 4 is a time for joy, not tears.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Contact Jacob Brooks jbrooks@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7468

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