Column: A memorable Fourth of July celebration in Franklin Grove
|SVM reporter Kiran Sood spoke at the Fourth of July celebration Wednesday in Franklin Grove. (Alex T. Paschalfirstname.lastname@example.org)|
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FRANLKIN GROVE – I got to celebrate the Fourth of July in a special way this year.
I took part in an Independence Day celebration dedicated to answering the question: What does freedom mean to me?
Max Baumgardner, of Franklin Grove, organizes the yearly patriotic celebration at Chaplin Creek Historic Village. He is a member of the Franklin Grove Historical Society and writes the programs for the Independence Day celebration. Baumgardner initially asked my colleague David Giuliani to speak at the event. David could not attend, so he asked me to speak on his behalf.
I am glad I got to participate in the event. It featured musical numbers performed by a choir, a presenting of the flags, and four readings from area residents about what freedom means to them.
That’s where I came in. I shared with the audience what freedom means to me and other members of the press.
The First Amendment gives us the rights to freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly and the right to petition our leaders. The media plays an important role in guarding those freedoms.
That’s a little of what I shared with the audience.
Each of the presenters had their own take on how freedom has defined their lives as American citizens. Hearing them share their own experiences made me appreciate even more what freedoms we have in this country.
Another major draw of the program was a reading of the Declaration of Independence by Tom Wadsworth, playing the part of Thomas Jefferson.
The celebration was well attended. Despite the heat, a group of people showed up to start their Fourth of July with a celebration that focused on freedom.
I thank Max for the opportunity, and everyone who attended and offered encouraging words to all the speakers.
Finally, I ask all the same question we were posed: What does freedom mean to you?
Wanted: Young blood, fresh ideas, future leaders
STERLING – At the conclusion of last Monday night’s City Council meeting, Mayor Skip Lee wished everyone a happy Fourth of July.
But he also wanted to deliver a take-home message to members of the public in attendance: Get involved in your communities.
“There is a real crisis in our community,” Lee told me in a follow-up conversation. “There are lots of people that serve and do wonderful things ... there is a lot of the same people doing all the work.”
Lee wants more young people involved in city affairs and community organizations, and he wants the public to let him and other city leaders know what they can do to get more young people involved.
This demographic will be making decisions in the future, Lee said.
In other words, there are “lots of great people, [but] I see way too much gray,” Lee said.
He is concerned about who will step up to fill the void when current leaders decide to step down. Who will run for mayor when and if Lee decides he doesn’t want to run again? he wondered.
The mayor also considered whether there was value in creating a mentoring system to encourage young people to get involved in civic affairs. He thought maybe they don’t feel like they can make a difference or aren’t sure how to get involved.
When I recently met with a group of Sauk Valley Community College students, I asked how many attended council meetings. Some didn’t even know where meetings were held or how to get involved.
If young people felt more connected to city affairs while in high school and college, they might be more connected to the city and more likely to become leaders.
New blood and fresh ideas are beneficial to the community. Sometimes it takes a new perspective to think of a different way of doing things.
Lee tied in his call to last week’s holiday.
“What you really need to think about is what it took for our forefathers to step up and think outside the box,” he said. “There’s a need, put some skin in the game and get involved. Do something to fill this need.”
Reach Skip and other city leaders at 815-632-6621.
Sauk Valley Media reporter Kiran Sood covers government and happenings in Sterling and Rock Falls. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 800-798-4085, ext. 529.
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