Last weekend friends and families gathered at homes and community events to celebrate the Fourth of July. Many shot of fireworks or went to local places where

thousands of dollars were spent on professional firework

shows.

The Grand Lake area had many such parties and events. The party at Lloyd and Lavina Cox’s house on Sunday in Hickory Grove had all the trimmings. Red, white and blue decorations, bar-b-que’d hamburgers and hotdogs, corn on the cob, lots of cold drinks and the good company of family and friends.

What made this celebration different than the others was this party was not only to celebrate Independence Day, but to say good-bye to one of their own who has joined the military and will be leaving soon to continue the fight for our nation’s independence.

“I chose to protect my country and family because I have always known personally that I was born to be in the military,” said Chas Briggs, 18, who graduated from Grove High School this past May. According to his mother, Lavina Cox, “he turned 18 on November 2, graduated in May, then went straight to Oklahoma City to enlist,” she said.

Briggs explained that they went to visit Fort Bragg for its Fourth of July celebration in 2007. “It got me thinking about the military,” he said. “I started thinking, I don’t want to pay loans all my life so I decided to make the military a career to ensure benefits for the rest of my life for me and my family,”

said Briggs. “I plan to be in the military for 25 years and then maybe open my own practice as an orthopedic surgeon,” he said. “My grandpa is my hero. He was in the army and my uncle Ronnie Swegger was in the Special Forces. I started talking to him and decided that no one in my generation was in the military, but someone should be. I’m that person,” he continued. “It’s hard to give your kid to the military, but I think it’s admirable that at 17 he decided to defend his country.

That in itself is admirable. If it weren’t for kids like him, we wouldn’t be free,” said his mother Lavina. Briggs leaves for Oklahoma City on July 11 and is then transported to Fort Benning in Georgia for basic and Advanced Individual Training (AIT). Although he said he scored high enough on his ASVAB that he could go anywhere, he wanted to start with infantry.

He hopes to go to Colorado after training, but knows that might happen. Lloyd Cox is the Fire Chief at Hickory Grove Fire Department and his mother Lavina is the Doctors Practice Manager at Integris Grove.