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It's a fiery Fourth

July 05, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

While many revelers at Fairgrounds Park said they were enjoying a day off from work with their families, one man at the fireworks Tuesday said the July 4 holiday meant so much more to him.

For the first time, Peter Nguyen, 34, a Vietnam native, took his young children to the park to see the celebration.

"I came here 19 years ago as a refugee," Nguyen said in hesitant English as 7-year-old John and 4-year-old Jennifer waved American flags.

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"With that type of particular background, Independence Day means a lot because the original reason for me to leave my homeland is searching for freedom," Nguyen said.

For others, the holiday was a chance to spend time with family.

Sherrie Dwyer, 19, of Boonsboro, said she likes fireworks, but she admitted the day really does not mean much to her.

"A much-needed day off of work," 44-year-old Janet Morgan, a dental hygienist and Dwyer's mother, said when asked what the holiday meant to her.

A blaring stereo and a car were freedom to two teenagers.

With his red sneaker propped on the edge of his car's open hatchback, Jeremiah Roelke and a friend celebrated by listening to a blaring stereo as they laid on folded-down seats in a 1995 Mazda MX3.

The 16-year-old said it's his first car.

"Yeah, isn't it freakin' awesome? I love it," Jeremiah exclaimed above the music.

Just being together was good enough for C.J. Stevens, 56, of Shepherdstown, W.Va., as he and his wife lounged under a green-and-white canopy and watched their sons toss a football.

Work schedules and his 17-year-old son's baseball games limit the time the family has together, Stevens said.

"For us, it's probably one of the few holidays we get to spend together with the whole family," said Stevens, who wore a white T-shirt with an American flag emblazoned across the front.

Nguyen said he usually watches the fireworks from his Hagerstown home, but this year, he decided to join the crowd. Having lived more than half of his life in the United States, Nguyen said he now would have a hard time identifying his "motherland."

"This somehow is really ... really my country," he said.

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