PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, California -- In the midst of the Revolutionary War, on July 4, 1776, members of the Continental Congress representing the thirteen American colonies met in Philadelphia to adopt a Declaration of Independence penned by Thomas Jefferson, with contributions by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. This document gave voice to the colonies' aspiration to break from the British Empire and contained perhaps the most powerful and influential words ever written in America's history, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Two hundred and forty-one years later, the City of Monterey, like countless other cities across our nation, celebrated Independence Day with demonstrations of patriotism, community, food and fun; including a good old fashion parade through the heart of the city.

An estimated 15,000 people lined the streets of downtown Monterey on July 4 to observe the City of Monterey 4th of July Parade which included the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Joint Service Color Guard and marching elements representing the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

"It's wonderful to see these people take a few minutes today and remember the independence of our country and those who helped to facilitate that," said officer-in-charge Cpt. Timothy Barba, Company E commander, 229th Military Intelligence Battalion. "We have these freedoms that we are celebrating because of the sacrifices of our military men and women and these are some of the finest people I have ever had the privilege of associating with."

For many of the service men and women who arrive at Presidio of Monterey straight from initial training (boot camp) and who are still relatively new to the military, this is also a first opportunity to represent their service branch in such a large public forum.

"This is my first time in a parade, so it's pretty exciting and it's a new experience for me," said Seaman Apprentice Larry Sauseba, Information Warfare Training Command Monterey, who was part of the Navy's marching element. "It's the day we gained independence from Britain. So I'm showing my pride for my country and my pride in the military by representing it today."

Patriotism was on display from the crowd in the form of waving flags and creative red, white and blue outfits; with large rounds of cheers and applause for the service members all along the route down Alvarado Street, along Calle Principal, and ending near Monterey's historic Colton Hall building.

"It's a great feeling to see folks waving and cheering and you could just tell that it was genuine. It was incredible to see, and it is always good to know that people appreciate what we do for our country," said Barba. "The relationship here between DLI and the community is phenomenal. This has been one of the best communities that I have lived in and worked in during my eight years in the military and the support we receive by the community is evident by the attendance of this parade. It is very touching to see the amount of support at an event like this."

Not all the service members at the parade were marching though. Pvt. Bradley Parkinson, Co. B, 229th MI Bn., showed up with about a dozen fellow Soldiers and watched the parade from a good viewing spot on Calle Principal.

"Gave me a real feeling of esprit-de-corps and pride to see these people, some who I know personally, out there in front of everyone showing what each branch of the military is capable of," said Parkinson. "Being out here in uniform I have received nothing but respect and support and it makes me very proud to be American and part of the United States Army. It reminds me of everything we strive and fight for. There is a great energy out here, very patriotic, and we are having a great time."