This Fourth of July weekend, Fred Downs and Artie McAuley will treasure independence in ways most of us take for granted, like grabbing a soda from a table or reaching into a pocket to answer a cellphone. And though football season has yet to start, for the first time in nearly a half-century Mr. McAuley will be able to raise both arms to celebrate a touchdown.
These simple, daily movements represent to them freedom in an intensely personal way: Both are Army veterans who lost part or all of an arm while in the service. Mr. Downs, a platoon leader in Vietnam, lost his left arm just above the elbow when he stepped on a land mine during a firefight in 1968. Mr. McAuley was assigned to an ordnance unit in upstate New York when a car accident cost him his left arm and part of the shoulder in 1969.
The men …