Patriotism is alive and well in Suffolk

Published 6:53 pm Monday, July 5, 2010

This year, almost for the first time in my life, I was acutely aware of some anti-patriotism sentiments leading up to the July 4 celebration.

Articles on national news websites questioned whether Americans are truly patriotic anymore. It seems we have lost the patriotism and unity we experienced after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and have become increasingly less patriotic and more cynical about the state our nation is in.

In some ways, it’s a fair question. Our nation is in the middle of overseas conflicts that seemingly have no end in sight, and the situation at home hasn’t been too bright this past year, either.

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The ongoing recession has put many out of work, and it seems the federal government’s hunger for control over every aspect of American life is insatiable. Add to that quite a number of natural and manmade (Gulf oil spill, anyone?) disasters that have beset the country since last year’s Independence Day celebration, and it’s easy to see why some people are ready to hang up the flag, put away the grill and the illegal fireworks they bought across the state line, and go back inside this year.

However, as my colleagues and I covered Suffolk’s Fourth of July celebrations, it was clear that patriotism is alive and well in Suffolk.

They began almost as soon as the sun came up with services at churches around the city. Soon after church services ended, thousands rushed to the Eclipse community to see the annual parade of bicycles, fire trucks, wagons, golf carts and anything with wheels, all decked out in our country’s proud colors of red, white and blue.

At 3 p.m., the raft race on the Chuckatuck Creek was kicked off with a cannon shot. The traditional raft race has been around for several decades, and it shows little sign of slowing down.

In the downtown area, churches held picnics, and thousands flocked to Constant’s Wharf for food, fun and fireworks. Music provided by Island Boy filled the void until nightfall, when a spray of pyrotechnics was lit over the Nansemond River.

Through all the celebrations, many no doubt had in mind the tremendous sacrifices that have been made for this country. When the American Revolution was fought, thousands of men stepped up to the fight because they believed in what they were doing, and they won freedom for this country we now call America.

After 234 years, men and women still are dying for the cause of freedom across the world. This country has brought itself through scores upon scores of political scandals, natural disasters, wars, and periods of social unrest and economic strife — all of which have broken weaker nations across this globe. We’re still America, and we’re still the greatest country in the world — and Suffolk sure knows how to celebrate a birthday!