Hot Dogs and Fighter Jets: Here's How the Military Is Celebrating Independence Day This Year

Trumpet player solos with The U.S. Army Band and Chorus
Trumpet player Sgt. 1st Class Kelley Corbett solos with The U.S. Army Band and Chorus for the July Fourth Concert at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 29, 2024. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Brittany Primavera)

Many troops will enjoy a long, four-day weekend for Independence Day. The services will also be represented in various parades and flyovers across the country.

But among the top Pentagon July 4th events is a hot dog eating contest at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Four soldiers will compete against Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, who has been the undefeated champion since 2015 of the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest hosted every July 4th in New York City. Chestnut set a record for eating 76 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes during a competition in 2021.

Read Next: They Stole a Confederate Train for the Union. Now, 2 Civil War Privates Will Receive the Medal of Honor.

Chestnut was banned from the competition this year after signing a deal with Impossible Foods, which makes plant-based hot dogs and has engaged in explicit marketing to attract meat eaters to vegetarian alternatives. Instead of participating in Nathan's competition, Chestnut will eat with the Army in Texas.

Also in the Army, the service's Brass Quintet will perform at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Fort Jackson in South Carolina will have a July 4th music festival open to the public in which its band as well as local bands will be featured, along with carnival rides, fireworks, food and beer trucks.

Farther up the East Coast, the USS Constitution will sail through Boston Harbor and perform 21- and 17-gun salutes on Independence Day. The ship, also known as Old Ironsides, entered service in 1797. It saw significant action in the War of 1812, during which it defeated five British warships. The ship went on to be a flagship vessel for the young U.S. Navy in the Mediterranean and around Africa.

The Navy's top officer, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti, also released a message commemorating the holiday in which she noted that the service's history, including the recent combat it has seen in the Red Sea, underscored "the pivotal role our Navy plays in upholding peace, responding in crisis and, when necessary, winning decisively in war -- for 248 years."

During the Civil War, the USS Constitution was effectively taken out of a combat role and used as a training ship for the U.S. Naval Academy. It was finally retired from service completely in 1881. It's now used as a ceremonial ship.

Meanwhile, the Air Force will have various flyovers across the country, including the Thunderbirds over Battle Creek, Michigan, for the Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival.

Four F-35A Lightning II jets from the 419th Fighter Wing out of Hill Air Force Base will conduct flyovers around Utah, including Salt Lake City in the morning for the city's parade. F-35s with the Vermont Air National Guard's 158th Fighter Wing will fly over that state in the morning.

Leading into the holiday, President Joe Biden is set to honor two Civil War soldiers with posthumous Medals of Honor on Wednesday. The soldiers, Pvts. Philip Shadrach and George Wilson, were part of a raid infiltrating Confederate territory, stealing a train from rebel forces, and destroying key infrastructure on their way back to American lines.

The military also has a fondness for safety briefs to kick off the weekend, with senior noncommissioned officers telling troops not to abuse alcohol and to wear their seat belts, among other standard precautions.

Troops would do well to heed the warnings to be safe with fireworks and other incendiary activities. A soldier with the Old Guard at Fort Myer, Virginia, got into trouble last weekend for using a flamethrower at the barracks.

Related: How Russia Wishes the US a Happy July 4th Holiday

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