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Tri-State residents reflect on what the fourth of July means to them

July 03, 2013|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Robert Smith, left, of Greencastle, and Jason Willhite of Hagerstown, were looking over some of the thousands of fireworks for sale Tuesday at the Keystone Fireworks Greencastle Superstore.
By Joe Crocetta / Staff Photographer

As fireworks shoot into the air and cookouts are held across the country today, U.S. citizens will celebrate the country’s 237th birthday.

To many local residents, the celebration is a reminder of what the Fourth of July is about.

“The celebration is a vacation and a break, as well as a chance to reflect on what it is to have an opportunity to make a choice,” said Shawn Cutsail, 34, of Hagerstown. “It shows how lucky we are.”

Becky Chlebowski of Falling Waters, W.Va., said she is going to a cookout at a friend’s house for the holiday, and added she likes all of the festivities that come with the celebration, but that it’s important to remember why the celebration exists.

“I have a friend that lost his life in Iraq, and there’s people still fighting every day, and I think we need to remember them tomorrow and remember the soldiers that have fallen in the past so that we can have what we have and have this day off to celebrate,” she said. “We couldn’t celebrate if it wasn’t for the people fighting for our country.”

Kayla Mackrell of Waynesboro, Pa., said she will get together with family on the holiday, but also has family members who are serving in the military. She said the Fourth of July reminds her of them.

“We’re thinking of the family members who can’t be present with us,” she said.

Although July 4, 1776, is the day that is recognized as the country’s birthday, the Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson and edited the month before, it was not signed until a month afterward, and the Second Continental Congress actually voted for independence July 2, according to documents on the U.S. government’s website at www.usa.gov. In fact, John Adams even declared that July 2 would be the day that was celebrated, not July 4.

However, the Declaration of Independence was not officially adopted by Congress until July 4, announcing the colonies’ separation from Great Britain, according to documents on the Library of Congress’ website at www.loc.gov. A celebration was held in Philadelphia the first anniversary of that day, but it was not commonly observed until after the War of 1812. In 1870, Congress made it a federal holiday.

Tony Serio of Hagerstown said the celebration represents the freedom for people to do what they want.

“It celebrates everybody’s liberties and their happiness as people in this country,” he said. “We still have our freedoms.”

Tammy Myers of Hagerstown said the activities that come with the holiday represent why people live in the United States.

“It serves as a reminder for us to know that we have the actual chance to celebrate,” she said. “We have the chance to get with our family and friends, we have the chance to be with everybody to understand that freedom is what we have, and we’re lucky to have that.”

Myers, 33, added that the fireworks and cookouts represent “togetherness” for the country.

Ed Poling, 65, of Hagerstown added that he loves the fireworks and picnics that come with the holiday.

“It’s a way to remember who we are and what we believe in,” he said.

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