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Fourth of July celebration returns to Fort Bragg

Posted July 4
Updated July 6

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— Fourth of July celebrations were back at Fort Bragg on Friday, one year after the event was canceled due to budget cuts.

Post officials said last year that they couldn't afford the $120,000 in overtime pay associated with the event, which has regularly drawn more than 50,000 people since it started more than 30 years ago. 

After the decision was announced, people complained on social media, and some even offered to pay for the July 4th event themselves. But a Fort Bragg spokesman said federal rules don't allow any donations to cover overtime costs.

Friday's event featured rides, including giant air-filled slides and rock climbing, as well as live entertainment and all types of food, such as fried Oreos and corn dogs.

But for the soldiers and their families, the Fourth of July is more than just a day off.

"Everybody who serves, in my book, are some of the best people in the country," said soldier Nathaniel Johnson. "Some of these people have given so much for their country, and they deserve something like this."

Soldier Ackeel Lewis brought his wife and three daughters to Friday's celebration. He said he reminds his daughters why he has to deploy sometimes.

"It keeps everybody safe at night. It keeps everybody worry and stress free," he said. "It puts a lot of stress on me. I take that burden myself."

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