Reporter Jackie Majerus wrote this today:
The Fourth of July is a day to spend with family, but also a time to consider the freedoms that make the country great, according to a sampling of residents and leaders who shared their weekend plans along with some thoughts on patriotism.
"America is the foundation of freedom for the entire world and I am proud to be an American," said Bristol Fire Chief Jon Pose. "We are all so fortunate to be a part of the greatest country on earth."
Pose, who planned to spend a quiet Fourth of July at home enjoying that freedom, said for him, the day is one of rest and remembrance of America's birthday.
Jackie Sanchez, owner of Artistry Haircutters in Bristol, said she was looking forward to the holiday.
"One nice thing is I get a day off," said Sanchez, who said she'll spend it at an annual family birthday gathering.
Sanchez said she tries to teach patriotism to her children. American freedoms, especially of religion and speech, are important to her, she said.
At home, Sanchez said, her family flies the American flag on the Fourth of July.
"It's a reminder," Sanchez said.
City Historian Bob Montgomery said he had only one special thing planned for the holiday weekend – walking along Memorial Boulevard and visiting all the monuments.
The memorial park, said Montgomery, is "a tribute to Bristol's patriotism through the years" and makes him proud of not just the city but also of the nation.
"We are very fortunate to live in the best country in the world," Montgomery said. "We are not perfect by any means, but where is it better? I believe our military and political leaders want to do their best for us even though we sometimes disagree with their decisions. Our elected officials are just that and not rulers or dictators. How fortunate we are for that."
Montgomery said he tries to show his patriotism by attending military celebrations and events throughout the year.
"We have the best veterans as well as a number of citizens who are currently serving our country with pride," Montgomery said.
Patriotism is "love of country as it is established in the Constitution and laws of the land," said Gardener Wright, a member of the Bristol Downtown Development Corp. board. "We have freedoms that no other country enjoys. I hope it stays that way."
Patti Ewen, retired after years of public service on city boards and a long stint as city treasurer, said she would be spending the holiday with her family.
For her, the meaning of Independence Day, Ewen said, is that America's democracy is precious and should not be despoiled.
"Its importance was taught by my Native American mother who didn't get full voting rights until mid-twentieth century," Ewen said, "and my German-born father."
Her father, Ewen said, became a naturalized citizen and believed it a privilege to serve in World War II.
"They taught me to respect and serve our nation," said Ewen. "They also impressed us children concerning the fragility of freedom."City Councilor Craig Minor said patriotism means "loving your countryenough to be willing to sacrifice for it, like the Founding Fathers did 200 years ago and our servicemen and women do every day."
But Minor said love of country also means getting involved and serving on local boards and commissions "for no pay and lots of aggravation."
Patriotism, Minor said, includes pride in our history as the first country to have a Constitution that limited the powers of the government and of how Americans went oversees to fight in two major wars to keep the rest of the world free.
"I'm proud of belonging to a nation of immigrants and many different ethnic groups that all get along, unlike in so many other countries," said Minor, who said that he saw the results of "ethnic cleansing" when he served in the Balkans a decade ago. He said he now has friends and family in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting the same issue.
Minor said he and his wife Laura will be on a whirlwind Independence Day weekend, visiting lots of friends and family in Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and New Jersey. Along the way, he said, they'll attend a high school reunion and catch some fireworks along the way.
State Sen. Tom Colapietro said he'll be at home in Bristol catching up on his "honey do" list. He doesn't get to see his wife very often, Colapietro said, so he's looking forward to spending some time with her.
City Building Official Guy Morin said he generally spends the Fourth with his family. He said later in the month, he'll participate in his town's Fireman's Parade as a Fourth Degree Knight in the Unionville Knights of Columbus.
"Patriotism means supporting people who are in the armed services and the veterans," said Morin.
Businessman Craig Yarde, who is actively working on the campaign for a city manager in Bristol, said he was spending Independence Day in Warren, Vermont, watching that town's annual parade.
"It's a wild, wacky and wickedly fun parade," said Yarde.
Bristol Mayor Art Ward said he would spend the weekend close to home with family and friends, picnicking and watching fireworks.
"To me, patriotism is honoring the premise of our forefathers in the founding of this great nation," Ward said, "maintenance of an absolute respect for the right of individuality and the preservation of the rights and well-being of the people of this great nation."
Christopher Wright, a Democrat hoping to win a state House seat this fall, said patriotism means recognizing that Americans inherited the best country from their parents and should doing what they can to make it better for their children.
Beyond supporting the troops, Wright said, patriotism includes supporting teachers and police at home, using conservation and recycling to clean the environment and getting involved in community organizations and government committees.
"Patriotism also means recognizing that not everyone agrees with you and acknowledging their right to their beliefs without malice," said Wright.
John Leone, president of the Greater Bristol Chamber of Commerce, said he'd be at a family picnic Friday and on Sunday, planned to catch some fireworks over Cedar Lake.
Supporting the country, American troops stationed in the Middle East and their families back home – whether or not one agrees with the war – is patriotism, said Leone.
America has many patriots, Pose said, including everyone who is serving or has served in the military as well as "homeland protectors" like firefighters, police officers and emergency responders.
Pose said he tries to live his patriotism through his role as fire chief, supporting the troops and having pride in the country.
Giving back to your own community to make it the best it can be is what patriotism means to him, Yarde said, adding that is why he's pushing so hard on the city manager issue.
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