Fourth of July celebrations are already becoming faded memories, but what remains for me is a sense of dissatisfaction with our community and its identity.

Woven into the fabric of today’s political rhetoric lie arguments over immigration, separation of children from their parents, violence in schools, gun rights, trade wars and minority rights. In our own city of Waterville the mayor has just barely survived an ouster in a referendum after making tactless and improper statements. The city is as divided as the nation as a whole.

I was fortunate enough to attend a naturalization ceremony last month in which 25 immigrants were welcomed as new United States citizens. In that gathering of diversity there was a sense of unity and commonality greater than I have experienced in a long time. Each new citizen, when receiving the citizenship document, was also presented with a small American flag. The joy was palpable.

And so I reflected as I walked the streets of Waterville on the Fourth of July. In this country filled with citizens lucky enough to have been born here, there seem to be only a few who are willing to show their pride in our nation by flying the flag. On the typical Waterville street there were an average of only two homes flying the American flag: And this on the fourth of July.

My hope is that there will be a time again when we will all fly the flag. Let citizens consider the act of displaying the American flag to be a natural and beautiful act, an act devoid of political rancor but filled with real patriotism.

Joe Schmalzel


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