07/03/11 — A Fourth 'to remember'

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A Fourth 'to remember'

By Kenneth Fine, Aaron Moore, Phyllis Moore and Ty Johnson
Published in News on July 3, 2011 1:50 AM

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With so much having occurred since the last Fourth of July, including a contentious election, the killing of Osama bin Laden and the apparent beginning of the end of two wars, Independence Day is taking on special meaning for many people this year.

For Monica Taylor, the Fourth of July means more this year than a trip to the beach -- a three-day weekend culminated by the skies over Wilmington lighting up with a series of colorful bursts.

There is more, she said, to reflect on, to be proud of -- the men and women who will soon begin coming home from Afghanistan by the thousands; the victory they shared when the mastermind of the terrorist attack that sent the nation to war was killed; the promise of freedom and an end of tyranny renewed.

"Doesn't it feel like this one is gonna be one to remember?" she said. "I mean, every year when those fireworks start going, I get chills. I don't know why, but I feel like this year, I might cry."

Dale Crumpler agrees.

"We have so much to celebrate this time around," he said. "That flag is sure gonna be flying proud at my house."

As the nation prepares to pause to celebrate its independence Monday, local residents are embracing the notion that all that has transpired since the last time annual fireworks celebrations lit up the sky gives them more to be thankful for this year.

But they are also humbled by the challenges that still face America and those who call it home.

"I think I grew up when it was the most wonderful time to grow up in the United States. You didn't have to lock your doors. Nobody would come in and bother you at night," said Linda Hines, a retired teacher from Mount Olive. "I don't think we can live like that anymore. That's the way life is going for the next generation."

But, says Charlotte Brow, a history professor in the humanities/social science/ fine arts department at Wayne Community College, as long as the country remembers its origins, there is hope for the future.

"I'm definitely proud to be an American," she said. "Very proud when I look back and see our Founding Fathers actually put their lives on the line when they signed that document to get our freedom."

And thankfully, said John Joyner, there are still men and women putting their lives on the line to maintain those freedoms.

"There are so many rights that we have that we take for granted," Joyner said. "We have freedom. But it doesn't come without our soldiers and Founding Fathers."

And that dedication of American troops and the freedoms here that they guarantee, said his wife Ondrea Joyner, are what make America the best place in the world to live.

"You can't beat America as far as choices," she said, comparing it to her mother's native England.

But their son, Evan, 10, had a far simpler reason for loving America and being proud to call himself an American.

"I love America. It's a fun place and it means a lot to me. I've spent my whole life here," he said.