“The fourth of July, the epoch of American independence, is a day when the heart of every American must glow with pride and gratitude. No village, however sequestered, no citizen, however obscure, forgets the celebration of the anniversary of his country’s liberty! Through all the land, from the shores of the Atlantic to our mountain-tops, the sounds of gratulation are heard; the roar of cannon, and the peal of bells, announce the auspicious morn, and people of every rank hasten with their festive offerings round the altar of liberty.”
— Margaret Bayard Smith, a prolific and influential writer, wrote this on July 4, 1809, just 33 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed.
More than 200 years have passed, yet the tradition continues, from the biggest cities to the smallest towns, the Fourth of July remains a holiday steeped in tradition and pride.
Bonners Ferry celebrated in a hometown style. The parade down Main Street was filled with classic old cars and firetrucks, polished until every piece of chrome shined, log trucks and floats, people on foot and on horseback. Children darted across the pavement, under watchful eyes of parents, gathering the candy projectiles as they landed on street and sidewalk.
Firefighters competed in a hose race, delighting spectators as they raced the high pressure water, attaching hoses together in time to shoot down a sign. The Bonners Ferry Lions Club hosted a Family Night with games for children, such as the three-legged race, while families watched from the idyllic expanse of fresh cut grass of the Boundary County fairgrounds.
The small town celebration feeling continued as people gathered for the opening ceremonies and thrilling fireworks display. They lay down blankets and coolers, picnicking with friends and family, while other threaded their way through the patchwork of blankets and grass, talking to people on the left and right. Fathers tossed frisbees with their children, and the summer evening buzzed with content conversations.
Opening ceremonies had people on their feet, hands over hearts, and heads bowed in prayer. The solemn expressions of the crowd reflected the pride in our nation. Fireworks followed, grand fireworks, stepped up from the already spectacular version from the previous year.
“I think it is wonderful. People… people are just having fun. This is a picnic, this is the fourth of July,” said Gary Leonard, fundraiser and organizer of the Fourth of July celebration. “We are right there, at that Norman Rockwell moment, you know.”
The Fourth of July, Independence Day, means something different for everybody. The following is just a small sample of what the Fourth of July means to the people in this community.
“Fourth of July means so many things to me … FREEDOM first and foremost. Remembering how we got that freedom! Family, parades, fireworks, picnics with friends and family. Always a wonderful day celebrating how we got to where we are with our Declaration of Independence! God, family and country! That is what it is all about!”
— Jan Irving
“Independence Day is an opportunity to pause and reflect on our freedoms as Americans. It’s a day to embrace gratitude.”
— Alyssa Pinkerton
“The Fourth of July represents to me, America’s tenacity to fight for Freedom from oppression.”
— Rhonda Vogl
“For me it’s all about freedom and patriotism, and bonding with family and friends, and honoring our TRUE freedom. I gave 21 years in the military. I love good food and fireworks, but to me, the Fourth is not about that- it’s about the birth and the freedom of the United States of America.”
— Scott Rubenacker
“For me the Fourth means celebrating freedom with family, eating good food, and just having fun. I have always enjoyed the Fourth, not only for the fireworks, but also I have lots of veterans in my family. We have a great barbecue every year, with family bringing great food and spending time celebrating life, freedom, and family. Later at night we have a great firework show. When I lived in California we had 40 plus acres so we bought our own fireworks, but now that I live here we still have a great view right from out on our deck.”
— Adriana Olbekson, age 16.
“Fourth of July is obviously the birthday of the greatest country ever but also a great reason to get together and have a good time.”
— Kendra Verzier
“Holidays I believe is a time to remember what family and being an American means. Remembering the real reason of why we separated from the crown to begin with, a reason that has been long forgotten.”
— Brianne Nasby
“July 4th is a day where I just reflect on how blessed I am to have been born in a place where I have so many opportunities within my reach. Not all women of the world are so fortunate.”
— Lisa Carle
“Sorry lady we went to the cabin for the weekend, and just got back. We spend every 4th out there with family and friends. It’s all about tradition for us. Good food and drinks, relaxation, and being thankful for the freedom to do so. We definitely celebrate the red, white and blue a little more that day. However, we are insanely proud to be American every day!”
— Breanna Stippich
“The Fourth of July is a drippy popsicle in a child’s hand, the sound of hoofbeats down Main Street, the BOOM then crackle of a firework at dusk. To me, Independence Day is a time when friends and family come together on common ground to celebrate the birthday of a nation, of OUR nation, under the star spangled banner.”
— Kylie Anne Ziegwied
Margaret Bayard Smith mentions “people of every rank.” These quotes, from members of the community, represent a cross section of people from many different aspects of life, from firefighter to retired military, from student to educator, and more. The common theme substantiates that hearts of Americans still glow with pride and gratitude.