Independence Day commemorates the final signing of the Declaration of Independence, which announced America's freedom from English rule in 1776.
"You think about the attacks, and you worry there might be more," said Elizabethtown Police Chief Bobby Kinlaw, "but you can't obsess over it. If you let the enemy hinder your life, the battle's lost."
So many people want to participate in the annual Celebration on the Square that organizer Sylvia Campbell said she had to order more songbooks.
"There were fifty books to start," she said, "and I've ordered 65 or so more-and people will still have to share."
This year's celebration-which takes place Sunday at 6:30 p.m. at the Bladen County Courthouse in Elizabethtown-features a musical program written after the attacks of Sept. 11, Campbell said.
"I think it's because we're more patriotic now," she said. "There's a new American spirit out there, and it's very strong."
Campbell said she thinks the new attitude isn't confined to Independence Day. People's attitudes have changed, and Campbell said more people want to help others.
"I've never seen so much volunteering," she said. "I've had a lot of people expressing interest in helping, and you see it everywhere."
The program will honor veterans, but pays tribute to emergency and police personnel as well.
"This is going to be a special holiday this year," she said. "The events of 9-11 made us even more aware of the part these people (emergency personnel) play in our freedom."
The threat of a possible attack doesn't seem to worry most people.
Jewell Smith of the Bladen County Sheriff's Department said her family's plans haven't changed. She'll be on a family reunion trip to Detroit, Mich.
Safety doesn't concern her, Smith said, although increased security forced a slight change in her tour group's plans.
Anticipated long lines through security checkpoints caused the group to cancel a planned side trip to Canada, but other than that "We're not worried about being attacked."
While she grieves for those lost and injured in the attacks, Smith said people have to go on with their lives. She feels those lost in the terrorist attacks would want it that way.
"September 11 was a horrible day," she said. "I still tear up when I think about it, and I know if I'm anywhere that there's a television program about the attacks, I'll shed some tears."
"You can't help it-all those people lost, the police, the firemen, those families hurt," she said.
Smith said that none of her family in New York were touched by the attacks on the World Trade Center, but she knows families who were.
"How can you hate someone you've never met," she said, "and hate someone so bad as to attack them like those terrorists did us?"
"Everything that reminds me of that day, I have to think of them," she said. "God looks after those who are hurting, and we have to remember that."
"At the same time," she said, "I've never seen people so patriotic. Everywhere you turn there's Old Glory-I've never seen so much, and never heard so many people proud of heir country."
To her, one of the most striking things about the newfound patriotism was a patriotic themed dress in a store window.
"It's just so beautiful," she said, "and you can't ignore that red, white and blue."
Businessman and Bladenboro Commissioner David Hales said his family's annual get-together at White Lake is an Independence Day tradition.
"We'll watch the fireworks, cook some hot dogs, and if it gets too hot, just roll off into the lake," he said.
He said everyone is likely to be more reflective on the true meaning of the celebration, but the heightened state of national security is not going to interrupt the family's cookout and other activities.
"We're not going to be hiding anywhere," he said.
He said he feared July 4 may have lost its meaning to some people through the years, but Sept. 11 helped change that.
"It's always been special to us," he said, "but today, I guess it will be more meaningful."
The sacrifices made by the people on Sept. 11 may help some people remember the sacrifices made by other generations, he said.
"I think it's great that there are so many flags flying now, and so many people mean it when they fly the flag."
"I'm the kind of person that always gets a lump in my throat when I hear the National Anthem, or see the flag waving," he said. "People need to be reminded about how great this country is, and they need to realize there's nothing that can change that."
l combat situation, communications are vital, Walsh said.
Specialized radios and communications aircraft allow a commander hundreds of miles away to relay directions to aircraft and personnel on the scene.
The person being rescued or equipment being destroyed in a TRAP is referred to as a target.
The targets-in this case, two pilots-would make contact with jet aircraft circling the area. After confirming the pilot's identity and condition using codes (which are changed daily) the jet pilots would relay the rescue request to an aircraft carrier, attack ship or land base, Walsh said.
The AH-1 Cobra helicopters-armed with machine guns, automatic cannon and rockets-would make a sweep on the area around the rescue zone to look for enemy activity and the targets.
When they're sure the area is secure, the gunship pilots then circle areas near the rescue site, rather than drawing the enemy to the targets.
"The last thing we want," Walsh said, "is to have another aircraft on the ground or more personnel in danger. Safety is a major concern."
The rescue helicopters, or occasionally, airplanes, then land ground troops who seek out the lost personnel and get them to safety.
Although aircraft are usually used, Walsh said, targets can be extracted via road, water, or even on foot in some circumstances.
"It's all a matter of preparedness," he said.
Walsh said Marine officials work closely with local law enforcement and emergency personnel to coordinate the training exercises. Bladen County is frequently chosen due to its proximity to the coast, the Cape Fear River and Jones Lake State Forest.