Photography is by Scot Facer Proctor and text by Maurine Proctor.

It is easy for those of us who live in the United States to take freedom for granted because we have lived in a country that has experienced more than 200 years of unparalleled liberty that most of humanity through the millennia of time have never experienced.

Yet liberty is a fragile thing that has to be held onto and fought for, especially in a time when for 25 years universities have taught a version of our history that is critical of our founding, and celebrities and intellectual elites sometimes claim that America is not worth celebrating.

That’s why Provo, Utah’s American Freedom Festival is not just a breath of fresh air, but a significant commitment by a community that seeks to celebrate, teach, honor and strengthen the traditional American values of family, freedom, God and country.

People who experience the nearly 25 events that the festival sponsors each year know that here are hand-over-your-heart patriots who teach and honor America’s founding principles, an important message in a world where cynicism seems rampant even among those who have most benefited from a nation that embraces freedom.

Among the Festival’s events is the annual production of the award-winning “Hope of America Student Showcase,” where thousands of elementary school children learn songs, dances and information about their American heritage, then participate in a large-scale performance at BYU’s Marriott Center for community members and family.

The culminating event of the festival of the Stadium of Fire on the Fourth of July where tens of thousands of spectators fill LaVell Edwards stadium in Provo to be awed by fireworks and stirred by devotion to freedom. Join in the festival in this photographic essay.

Stadium of Fire 0001 590The Stadium of Fire is one of the greatest fireworks displays in America, lighting up the night sky with colorful plumes.

Stadium of Fire 0002 590LaVell Edwards Stadium filled with tens of thousands of spectators.

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“Tonights show is the culmination of more than 100,000 hours of preparation by hundreds of volunteers,” said Paul Warner, Executive Director of America’s Freedom Festival. This equals more than 11 years.

Stadium of Fire 0004 590He’s a grand, old flag.

Stadium of Fire 0005 590President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife, Harriet, will watch the festivities.

Stadium of Fire 0006 590For the ninth consecutive year the program and fireworks is broadcast by the American Armed Forces Network to military in bases and on ships all over the world.

 Stadium of Fire 0007 590America is celebrated as a nation that has protected the weak, extended humanitarian and financial aid and given hope to a troubled world.

Stadium of Fire 0008 590In the thick of a battle during the War of 1812, a young attorney, Francis Scott Key, penned “The Star-Spangled Banner” which the choir sang tonight.

Stadium of Fire 0009 590Alex Boye, who was the host of the evening, has just become a citizen of the United States in February.

Stadium of Fire 0010 590The crowd stood and put their hands over their hearts when the colors arrived on the field.

Stadium of Fire 0011 400F-16s fly over the stadium, saluting America.

Stadium of Fire 0012 590The Stadium of Fire dancers do a military routine.

Stadium of Fire 0013 590

Joining the show tonight is Scotty McCreery, country music sensation and winner of the tenth season of American Idol.

Scotty McCreery released his new album, Clear as Day, in October to national acclaim. The album sold 197,000 copies on its debut week, and McCreery made history as the first country act to debut at No. 1 on Billboard 200 with his or her first studio album, as well as the youngest man to open at the top of the chart with his debut release. Tonight he plans to perform hits like “The Trouble With Girls”, “Water Tower Town” and “I Love You This Big”.

Stadium of Fire 0014 400Members of the military leave loved ones behind to fight for freedom for all of us.

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Sounding as good as ever, the Beach Boys dazzled the crowd. They are one of the world’s most legendary and iconic bands and are touring the nation celebrating their 50th anniversary.

This year marks the first time in more than two decades that Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks are performing together.

Stadium of Fire 0016 590

Tonight’s anniversary show is not just a reunion for The Beach Boys, however. The group came to Stadium of Fire exactly 20 years ago, wowing the audience with their electric performance. It was one of the most popular shows in Stadium of Fire history.

Stadium of Fire 0017 590Spectators tonight heard classics like “Surfin’ Safari”, “Little Deuce Coup”, “I Get Around”, “California Girls”, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, “God Only Knows”, “Good Vibrations” and many more.

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<hr class=’system-pagebreak’ /><hr class=’system-pagebreak’ />jpg” height=”394″ width=”590″ />The music was so compelling the crowd had to dance along. Everyone was feeling those “good vibrations.”

Stadium of Fire 0019 590The fireworks sparked, exploded and danced to a James Bond theme.

Stadium of Fire 0020 590With lights choreagraphed to “Diamonds are Forever”, “Goldfinger” and other Bond favorites, photos of the five actors who had played the elusive Bond were flashed upon the screen.

Stadium of Fire 0021 590Alex Boye sang in his own patriotic moment.

Stadium of Fire 0022 590Wow! Fire power.

Stadium of Fire 0023 590Fireworks dance on cue.

Stadium of Fire 0024 400The flag, highlighted by a spotlight, was a beacon of light through the fireworks display.

Stadium of Fire 0025 590Here the stage, with its lights piercing through the holes, almost looks like Lady Liberty.