Friday, July 05, 2002

Tristaters mark Fourth with fervor

9-11 made this Independence Day keenly felt

By Susan Vela
and Brett Corbin

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Amber Lipscomb, 11, a student at Monroe Elementary School, participates in Hamilton's Fourth of July Parade.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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        At all-American parades, barbecues and red-white-and-blue fireworks displays, Greater Cincinnatians came together Thursday to celebrate one of the most patriotic Fourths of July in memory.

        Sept. 11 inspired thousands to put up with scorching temperatures and high humidity so they could honor their local police and firefighters, as well as express a strengthened love for their flag, fellow Americans and the all-American freedoms.

        In sights both simple and grand — from flags placed along a mile-long stretch of Eighth Street in Price Hill to flashy fireworks lighting up night skies — this new patriotism was evident.

        But many said they felt this reinforced sense of American pride where it matters most — in their hearts.

        Bill Quinn, a 40-year-old Hamilton firefighter, read Hamilton's daily newspaper Thursday morning and knew that his life had changed forever. On the editorial page was the Declaration of Independence.

        “I probably read it 20 times in school. (But) I don't think it ever meant more than sitting at my kitchen table on the Fourth of July this year (and) drinking a cup of coffee,” said Mr. Quinn, who would have rushed to New York after Sept. 11 if called.

Fireworks gleam over the Ohio River as part of the Fourth of July Celebration at Sawyer Point.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        Shortly after the terrorist attacks, he and his fellow firefighters grabbed their boots, ventured into Hamilton's major intersections and raised $57,000 for families of the New York firefighters who lost their lives.

        In Cincinnati, firefighters raised more than $613,000 for these same mourning relatives. Nationwide, firefighters raised more than $64 million in the month after the towers collapsed.

        This July Fourth “lets everybody reflect a little deeper on the principles that our country was founded on, the freedoms that we hold so dear ... just the frailty of life,” Mr. Quinn said.

        Mr. Quinn was preparing to watch his fellow firefighters walk in Hamilton's annual Fourth of July parade, which honored local police and firefighters this year.

        Tim Niemiller, 50, held his grandson, Ryan. A science teacher at Hamilton High School, Mr. Niemiller said that Sept. 11 sparked a patriotism that is evident everywhere, including his classrooms.

Watching Hamilton's parade are George Eichhold of Fairfield; Maria Nyamdorj, 10, of Middletown, and Caleb Suttle, 5, of Hamilton.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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        These days, “we suffer together. We celebrate together. It just brought out the patriotism in everybody,” he said. “It has unified the country.”

        The desire to recognize the dangerous work of police and firefighters also was evident in Anderson Township, where residents at the Mount Washington Care Center celebrated the Fourth by honoring the fire department and two township firefighters who died within a year of each other.

        One of them, Bill Ellison, 38, died in the line of duty; the other, Ben Cunningham, 55, died of cancer.

New York City firefighter Lt. Patrick Sobota was was grand marshal at Hamilton's parade.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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        New York City firefighter Lt. Patrick Sobota, who lost many friends when the World Trade Center collapsed, was grand marshal at Hamilton's parade. He also participated in a special ceremony that followed the parade.

        He was touched to see such patriotism. Thinking of the friends that he lost, he hopes it never fades.

        “A lot of people have died for this country and no one should ever forget the sacrifices that were made to be the best country in the world,” Lt. Sobota said.

        On the other side of the Ohio River, Kentucky's Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, his wife, Heather French Henry, their young daughter Harper and World War II veteran James Simmons led the annual Fourth of July parade down the streets of Independence.

        Mr. Simmons, 77 and a hometown hero, will receive a Purple Heart today at Wright Patterson Air Force base in Dayton for his courage and survival after being shot down over Germany two months before the Nazis' surrender.

        “I think we should think of the liberties and freedoms we have,” Mr. Henry said. “It looks like the Fourth of July is alive and well.”

Uncle Sam (Scott Humbert of Monfort Heights) bends down to play with Ashley Williams, 6, of Williamstown, Ky., at Sawyer Point.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        In Cincinnati, at the All-American Birthday Celebration at Sawyer Point, Stephen McKinney, 60, from Cincinnati, said the Fourth is a great time to be an American.

        “We're the leader of the world,” he said. “We've accomplished a lot, and I'm proud to be a part of that.”

        His cousin, Bill McKinney, 58, also of Cincinnati, disagreed. He said America is all about security, responding to terrorists, and that Americans are losing their stability.

        Such sentiments were clearly in the minority Thursday.

        John W. Stone, a retired pipefitter and WWII Army veteran, sat on a curb at High Street to catch the Hamilton parade.

        He had three mini versions of the American flag waving from his blue baseball cap. As a marching band played “God Bless America,” he readied himself to take pictures.

        The sun was shining. He was surrounded by smiling children.

        “This little burg is always patriotic. (But) July Fourth is just home,” he said. “I look at what the other people have got around the world and there's no comparison, right?”


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