Independence Day means different things to different people. For some, it’s a day of patriotic pomp to celebrate the birth of our nation. For others, it’s more of an excuse to let it rip with picnics, concerts, baseball games and such. And this year, the duality of the holiday is more pronounced than usual, with political polarization running hot in every state, city and community. Despite this, many Americans will take some time today to reflect on what the holiday means to them and their lives. As a small sampling, we spoke with a handful of Capital Region residents to hear what the day means to them. Here’s what they said:
Karen Mccumber, 60, Schenectady, business owner
“It’s really about the people that fight for our freedom,” said McCumber, who was planning to move on the 4th.
Pat Dalton, 67, Colonie, business owner
“It reminds me of my dad, who fought in World War II, and all the guys that defended this country all the way back when it started,” said Dalton, who plans to grill in the yard with his family and hang out with his mother-in-law.
Chelsea Cirillo, 23, of Johnstown, intern at DA’s office and at a law firm
“I feel like the Fourth of July feels hard right now given everything that’s going on. It feels like America has not really been America and it doesn’t feel proud to be an American this summer.”
Sabrina Grassia, from Schenectady, process engineer
“I want to say independence and freedom, but the world we live in isn’t very much like that,” said Grassia, who had no plans at the time of this interview. “So more like independence, freedom, hanging out with family and everyone getting together.”
Dina Hansen, 34, Gloversville, stay-at-home caregiver
“When I was a kid it used to mean family and fun and summer. Even though summer starts in June, I feel like Fourth of July really kicked it off. Now as an adult with half of my rights that I had [a few] days ago, I could give two [expletive]. I’ve canceled all my plans, we’re not buying fireworks, we’re not doing anything. Honestly, if I could take my flag down without my neighbors giving me a hard time, it would be down. So it means nothing.”
Cheryl Gutmaker, 75, of Scotia, retired
“For me, it’s [about] family,” said Gutmaker, who expected to have a picnic or get-together with her family.
Hector L. Figueroa, 66, of Gloversville, retired and works part-time at Mohawk Harvest Cooperative, plans to be home and maybe cut the lawn
“The Fourth of July is my day off — we’re closed that day — and it’s my kid brother’s birthday — he’s a Yankee Doodle boy. … I love the foundations of what this country stands for. Where it’s at now, oh my God. And I’m worried. But at the end of the day, I’m an American — I will stand fast to that. And when I go to ball games with my daughter — we go to Yankee games a lot — sometimes I drop a tear at the national anthem. I get choked up just thinking about it.
Betsy Batchelor, 73, Gloversville, retired and member of the Gloversville City Council
“My problem with Fourth of July is fireworks, because I have pets that are terrified,” said Batchelor, who plans to hike with 12 people her age. “I live far away from my family, and I’m single, so for me, it’s [about] friends.”
Chun Lei, Caleb Kim, Arnav Akula, Niskayuna High School first-year students
“Honoring those that represent our country, fireworks, barbecue cookout, burgers, hot dogs, hanging out with your family and friends.”