NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As the nation celebrates its freedom, we honor the people who fought for that right.

Many of them are still dealing with the toll that war takes.

Before the fireworks, the sun was shining brightly on the true stars of the Fourth of July – the veterans of the United States military.

“It’s Independence Day. This is a day many of our brothers and sisters have been fighting for years and we still fight for,” Nancy Beetstra said.

“Pretty awesome how friendly New York City is to veterans and those still serving,” veteran Lloyd Bedford said.

Bedford served for 11 years with the U.S. Army infantry. His wife Kelly was with the U.S. Marine Corps. They moved to the city a week ago and are excited to start making new memories with their six-year-old Mackinley.

On Thursday, they went to a celebration organized by the Wounded Warrior Project, overlooking the East River for the big fireworks show. It’s a supreme spot that was secured with the help of the NYPD.

Fourth of July event for veterans in New York City. (Credit: CBS2)

“This is the reason, this is the reason we can celebrate our freedom… because of the men and women who were willing to go overseas and put their lives on the line for us as a country,” NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said.

With plates full of food and hearts full of pride, veterans and their families sprawled blankets across the Brooklyn Heights promenade. Staten Island native Antoinette Wallace wouldn’t miss the chance to be with those who know her best.

“This is like my second family and to celebrate Independence Day with other warriors means so much to me,” the veteran explained.

Some of the brave men and women at Thursday’s event were injured in combat. They carry scars of war that will last a lifetime. Some of the wounds are evident, others are not so easy to see.

“I suffer from PTSD… been a long road to recovery,” Wallace said.

For everyone celebrating the nation’s birthday – it’s a road made a little easier thanks to the love of a grateful city on the Fourth of July.

One thing everyone had in common — an unbelievable time.

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