Stars and Stripes Forever:
SHEPHERDSTOWN – Shepherdstowns Rotary Club hosted its annual Fourth of July Parade along German Street, with its largest parade yet.
Ninety groups paraded in front of hundreds of visitors from around the Eastern Panhandle.
“It’s a patriotic thing to do on the Fourth of July, and small-town fun for our girls. They love it. It’s a good thing that we can have as a family tradition, to celebrate our country,” said Susan Asmussen of Martinsburg, who came to the event with her husband and their two daughters.
Several members of Susan’s family have been in the military, and her brother is currently in the Navy. Their service has helped Susan and her husband, Michael Asmussen, understand the value of freedom.
“We want to teach our daughters about the sacrifices people have made for our freedom. We actually listened to NPR’s reading of the Declaration of Independence (Fourth of July) morning,” Michael said.
Speakers during the parade noted the importance of our nastion’s veterans.
“Veterans are important everyday. My family’s all farmers, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t serve our veterans,” said American Veterans Post 30 member Donna Woerner, of Inwood, as she prepared to join the parade with her group.
Woerner said the group was founded seven years ago, to help veterans and veterans’ families in need.
While some groups in the parade represented modern veterans, others dressed up to portray veterans from the American Revolution. The Black Box Arts Center was one of several parade groups to do so, and was the group with the largest number of kids in costume — 15.
“We had a bunch of patriotic-themed costumes that they could pick from, or they could choose a costume from one of our shows,” said BBAC Artistic Director Laura Bakin. Bakin said the majority of the kids chose to dress up as American Patriots.
Bakin — who is a direct descendant of Declaration of Independence signers George Read and George Ross — said the Fourth of July is about strengthening the community.
“It’s a time to come together and celebrate, and spend some personal time giving joy to the community, which is what we do year-round at the Black Box,” Bakin said. “In a time when we’re so divided over so many things, this is something we can celebrate in unity.”
Another onlooker agreed.
“I think it’s important, especially nowadays, to celebrate the Fourth of July,” said Helen Burns, of Shepherdstown, as she sat with her husband, John Burns, after the parade ended.
John agreed with her, explaining that a citizen’s patriotism should be based on more than who is in the White House.
“Even those of us who don’t support (President Donald) Trump want to fly our flag today,” John said.