A cry for peace this July 4

Published: Tuesday, July 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, June 30, 2003 at 10:13 p.m.

t's not only slurping mustard on those luscious hotdogs, flying Old Glory or even gazing in awe at the many spectacular fireworks displays that we enjoy when we celebrate the Fourth of July.

There are other kinds of celebrations going on in various areas of the country as well.

We find in Alaska that a fishing tournament held on beautiful Lake Kluane constitutes their Fourth of July commemoration. This four-day event draws many avid fishermen from Canada, Alaska and the United States.

A considerable amount of prize money is waiting for the winners along with the opportunity to catch huge freshwater trout - some weighing as much as 40 pounds.

Neighboring Vancouver, British Columbia, provides for a Celebration of Light competition during July and August with teams from several countries competing by showing sparkling multi-faceted lighting displays. This contest is augmented by the usual picnics and fireworks on the Fourth.

The city of Largo entertains thousands with a grandiose event called Red, White and Boom. This patriotic program features a stupendous display of fireworks shot from a large barge floating on the lake adjacent to Taylor Park.

In our own community, thousands will gather at the University of Florida bandshell July 3 to hear speeches, music by the Gainesville Community Band and watch an incredible display of fireworks.

Local veterans representing the various branches of our military provide the patriotic segment of this celebration.

A flag-folding ceremony that portrays the religious principles on which our country was originally founded will be presented during this part of the program. For the first time this year, the Milton Lewis Young Marines will be present to assist veterans with their part of Fanfare and Fireworks.

Other holiday programs in our area are: Williston Independence Day on July 3; Parade of American Music held at the Stephen Foster Center in White Springs, also on July 3; Fourth of July on the Plaza at the Downtown Community Plaza on July 4; Our County Day Celebration in Keystone Heights on July 4; and Independence Day activities in Micanopy on July 4.

Congress adopted the flag we so proudly fly on July 4, 1960, when Alaska and Hawaii became our 49th and 50th states. This newest edition to our repository of flags was the result of a high school history student's project that provided him with a grade of a B-. Needless to say, when Congress adopted his design, his grade was belatedly changed to an A.

July 4, 1776 signifies the signing of the Declaration of Independence that eventually birthed a new nation determined to establish a monarch-free government; one that gave citizens certain inalienable rights to participate in the governing process and allowed for redress when necessary.

While the present confluence of mid-Eastern events does not exemplify the same conditions that faced our early colonists, there is some similarity in that an opportunity does exist to form a centrist coalition that could bring about order and progress since the military conflict has abated somewhat and an "uneasy" renewal of Baghdad is under way.

A transformation from the horrific cruelty of a despotic dictator to an enlightened way of life is critical for peace to occur. Let us embrace the hope that an emergence of self-rule will unleash the human synergy necessary to create a sustained freedom for the beleaguered citizens of this strife-torn country.

As we seek the cause of peace in the Mideast and celebrate this year's Fourth of July, we must maintain a cohesive concern of vigilance on the home front and never forget our nation's veterans and those now serving the cause of justice on many battlegrounds.

The price of peace is not found in bargain basements and our support for those men and women now serving is critical to sustain their morale and ultimately provide for us a safe and secure national holiday.

Bob Gasche is a Gainesville resident who served in the Marines in World War II.

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