(KHNL) - There were special celebration for those who are fighting to keep us free.
The servicemen were grateful to be recognized. But they were more grateful to be with family.
With so many of our troops still overseas, they say independence day means a lot more than popping firecrackers.
Paul purdy cherishes this time with family. He says the typicaly family outing means so much more after you've fought for your country,"I took a lot of things for granted, and today I realize how lucky we are, how blessed we are in this great country."
The event, called Project Gratitude, was a way to say thanks to Hawaii's National Guardsmen and Reservists for their service.
"Whenever you go off on a mission and come home, you want to be appreciated and i think this is a great way to do it for the soldiers. And i know the troops appreciate what's going on today," Brig. Gen. Joe Chavez.
"I just feel I earned the right to be here today, so i just want to take advantage of that," Purdy earned that right by manning a 50-caliber gun for 8 months in Iraq, as part of the 29th Support Battalion.
But while he and hundreds of other families can celebrate our Independence together, Purdysays his heart goes out to his fellow troops overseas, "It's kind of sad cause we did lose people there, and we still losing people and 4th of July this year is different from any other year, cause it has more meaning. I just hope the families that lost loved ones have a good 4th of July and know that my prayers and thoughts are always with them."
More than 125 Hawaii army reservists are scheduled to leave for Iraq this month.