Russ Kent column: Independence Day memories


For me, Independence Day has changed through the years.

It’s always been a happy occasion, celebrating the freedoms Americans enjoy. And we celebrate in spite of terrorists around the world who wish to take away our freedom.

I enjoy all holidays, but this one — with all the red, white and blue, and family and food and parades and fireworks — is special.

“Independence Day” was also a wonderful, thrill-a-minute movie, which included one of the more memorable speeches in cinematic history, delivered by Bill Pullman, playing President Thomas Whitmore:

“Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom… Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: “We will not go quietly into the night!” We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”

That movie premiered in 1996. Terrorism has since spread world-wide and threatens the way of life we enjoy today.

So, while President Whitmore was talking about aliens trying to take over earth, his words carry just as much weight today in our fight against radical Islamists.

Wow, this column turned a lot more serious than I intended.

Back to our regular programming.

I get jealous around Independence Day.

I’m jealous because of the profession I’ve chosen, because I rarely get a day off on this holiday, let alone three, four, five or more days off.

Independence Day is Tuesday.

A lot of Americans will take Friday and Monday off, and make this a pretty long, successful, relaxing holiday.

But, judging from the lack of email in my email-boxes on Thursday and Friday, a whole lot of people left work on Wednesday with no intention of working the remainder of this week.

Literally, I go through — I don’t read, I just delete a lot of them — perhaps 125 emails daily. Heading into the weekends, and on Mondays that number can easily double

Since I first opened my email at 6:30 Thursday morning, I have received fewer than 40 emails. And that’s in four email boxes I monitor for work.

Which made me wonder.

Am I — and everyone else in the business of putting out newspapers — the only ones working Thursday and Friday. Not to mention several hours on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and a few more on Tuesday.

Still, I love this holiday.

Galion has a great tradition of fireworks. I can’t remember a year when there were no fireworks in Galion.

When I was growing up, the carnival came to Galion for about a week for an Independence Day run.

That’s no longer the case. But thanks to Sarah Capretta and a cast of dozens of hard-working volunteers, Galion’s Pickle Run Festival has risen from the dead. Hundreds will collect in Heise Park and elsewhere Saturday and Sunday to celebrate Pickle Run (If you are the first one to email me, with a correct explanation of where the name Pickle Run came from, I’ll figure out some type of prize to give you. My email address is [email protected].)

Independence Day is a a family holiday. Being in the middle of summer, it’s big family holiday. Our Pickle Run Festival is as family-oriented as festivals come.

If you need a break from grilling or swimming or playing baseball, make a visit to Heise Park. I guarantee you or the kids will find something fun to do.

For information, visit or the Pickle Run Festival Facebook page.

When I was growing up in Galion — say the late ’60s to early ‘70 — we had little league all-star baseball games this time of year. It was the halfway point for the American League (South Park) and the National League (Heise Park) and we played each other the weekend of Indepedence Day.

Guess what, Indepence Day youth baseball is back!

Galion Youth Baseball is hosting early-round action in the state 12U all-star tournament. The games are at Heise Park, starting Saturday.

Teams taking part are Galion, Fremont, New London, Bellevue, Clyde, Shelby and Bucyrus. The tournament kicks off Saturday at noon. Clyde plays Galion at noon; and New London plays Bellevue at noon.

If the Galion team wins, it plays again at 4 p.m. Sunday, against the winner of a 2 p.m. Saturday game between Shelby and Bucyrus.

If Galion loses it’s first game, they’ll drop to the loser’s bracket and will play the loser of Saturday’s Shelby-Bucyrus game. That game will be at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Look for more about the tournament in today’s sports section and online at

I have always watched the fireworks from my back yard on Summit Street. There are always family and friends here.

Our fireworks were loud, long and always quite impressive. It was the best display in the area. Hundreds, if not thousands, watched from parking lots and side streets and driveways in and around the city because they didn’t want to fight the traffic in and around Heise Park.

This was before Red, White and Boom in Columbus.

I actually was at the first two of those Capital City celebrations. I think there were just a few thousand people watching the first year. It was 1980. The next year there were more than 25,000 people … and that was the last one I attended.

For someone who really doesn’t enjoy large crowds, Red White and Boom had gotten too big for me.

I’m content in my back hard, in a lawn chair, with a beer in my hand, a pitbull next to me or under my chair and friends and family sitting alongside.

And while I’ll be in and out and out and about the Pickle Run festivities all weekend, I’ll watch the fireworks from the comfort of yard.

Enjoy the holidays. It’s an American tradition like no other.


Russ Kent

Galion Inquirer



Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer. Email him at [email protected] with comments or story ideas.


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