As day turned to dusk and the weather began to cool, the crowd that had gathered at Fort McPherson July 1 for the fort's final Independence Day celebration left behind the Ferris wheel, tilt-a-whirl and water slide, and made their way toward Gammon Field.

Taking seats on the hill across from the field, Soldiers, Civilian employees, Family members, retirees and invited guests turned their eyes skyward and waited for the fireworks to begin.

And, at half past 9 p.m. with a streaking burst of light, it did. "This is one of my highlights of the year," said Staff Sgt. Jae Brown, personnel sergeant, 221st Military Intelligence Battalion, of the fireworks. "I love it."

Although the cacophony of light and sound was the highlight of the day, those in attendance said they also appreciated the efforts of the U.S. Army Garrison's Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR) to provide amusement rides, food services and green space for Families to sit and spend time together.

"This is what we fight for; freedom," said Sgt. 1st Class Ronnie Reynolds, medic, Lawrence Joel Army Health Clinic.

"It's about our Families and loved ones, and spending time with them before going back to the fight."

Overall, the day was another opportunity for the members of the military community to gather and give honor to each other and the nation, said Brown.

He added that as a Soldier, he appreciates having peaceful days to fellowship and reflect.

"It's a great, secure environment to have fun in," he said. "It's a great chance to not only socialize with other Soldiers, but to celebrate our nation and what it stands for."