CLINTON — When Mike Lallemand drove his motorcycle Thursday morning from his Whitefield home to Fourth of July festivities in Clinton, it was raining lightly. Lallemand said the weather made him come to a realization on Independence Day.

Mike Lallemand, 60, of Whitefield stands near his motorcycle Thursday while attending the Central Maine 4th of July parade in Clinton. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

“This is the tears of the patriots that died for our country, realizing that this could be the last Fourth of July that we celebrate,” Lallemand, 60, who works in building maintenance for a school district, said.

From optimism to hopelessness, Lallemand and others in central Maine were thinking about the nation and its future.

With thousands of people in Clinton on Wednesday and Thursday to celebrate the nation’s independence, the Morning Sentinel asked some in the crowd what freedom means to them, and how they feel these days about the United States.

On the topic of freedom, those interviewed largely agreed on its importance to America.

“Freedom means the ability to live your life the way that you see fit,” Dale Thomas Jr., 63, of Burnham said.


Dale Thomas Jr., 63, of Burnham,stands beside his 1937 Ford fire truck Thursday after the Central Maine 4th of July parade in Clinton. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

Bennett Meister, 18, of Carmel said freedom is “absolutely everything.”

“It’s why I serve my country,” Meister, a small business owner who serves in the military, said.

For Fred Thompson, a 54-year-old truck driver from Manchester, freedom is “standing up for our rights and our country — standing behind our veterans, who defend our country.”

Nicole Raven, 29, and Linda Raven, 56, both of Clinton, struggled to explain the meaning of freedom, while waiting in the back of a pickup truck for Thursday’s Central Maine 4th of July parade to pass through the center of Clinton.

After thinking it over, Linda Raven, a physical therapy assistant, said: “Not being ruled by someone else. Being able to do what you want within reason.”

When asked about freedom, Ed Wilshusen II, 55, of Burnham looked around at the crowd of families and others lining Main Street in Clinton.


Ed Wilshusen II, 55, of Burnham stands beside his motorcycle Thursday before the start of the Central Maine 4th of July parade in Clinton. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

“Everything,” Wilshusen, who was with Lallemand and rode his Harley-Davidson motorcycle to Clinton, said. “It’s this.”

When asked about the current state of affairs in America, some at Clinton’s Independence Day celebration were divided.

Like Lallemand of Whitefield, Thompson of Manchester said he sees a bleak future for the United States.

“Our country is not in good shape,” Thompson said.

Other opinions covered the spectrum, including optimistic.

“It’s pathetic,” Linda Raven of Clinton said. “But there’s hope.”


“I feel like it could be better, but I am still hopeful,” said Ashley Bayne, 25, of Albion.

Nicole Raven, 29, right, of Clinton sits Thursday in the back of a pickup truck with her sons Ben and Donnie Raven. Donnie is held by Linda Raven, 56, of Clinton during the Central Maine 4th of July parade in Clinton. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

Wilshusen, who works as a volunteer with the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, said he tries to focus on the positive.

“It’s got its good points, it’s got its bad points,” he said. “I just try not to get into the bad.”

Meister, 18, said younger generations “will be able to turn things back around.”

Thomas, a semiretired information technology consultant, said his optimism rests in this the outcome of November’s election, in which he said he intends to support former President Donald Trump.

“I am cautiously optimistic about America,” Thomas said.

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