Americans are celebrating freedom and family on this Fourth of July. Fireworks, barbecues and patriotic parades are a traditional part of the holiday. But parishioners at St. Thomas Catholic Church kicked off Independence Day with a special service.
"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."
St. Thomas parishioners gathered to celebrate the holiday in song and prayer.
"Independence comes with a high price. Sometimes that price is life itself. So we pray for the men and women all over the world who have given their lives so that others would be free."
The Carrubba boys wore patriotic colors. Their homemade shirts were made by their grandmother and handed down a generation.
"Who'd of thought 26 years ago that her grand kids would be greeting people in church on the Fourth of July with the shirts that she made," Leonard Carrubba said.
The family of firefighter Jerry Dubuisson helped lead the holiday mass. The gathering with his church family is even more significant than in years past.
"Anytime on the Fourth of July you get together and it's always about family. But this year, after September 11th, it's more about country I think And we were lucky to be a part of this mass and to celebrate," Dubuisson said.
Father Louie Lohan recounted the joy of becoming an American citizen in 1984. And read the letter of congratulations from President Reagan.
"So I ask you to give America your heart and all your energies. Join in our efforts to defend and to keep her," the pastor said.
Air force veteran Larry Copeland defended freedom for 26 years.
"We're members. And it's the Fourth of July. And we wanted to celebrate," Copeland said.
His wife summed up the feeling of the whole congregation.
"It's a great country."