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July 3, 2014

Diversity, tradition shapes the 4th

Holiday more than fireworks, cookouts and days off

By Jaclyn Seymour

Growing up in a small town Kyle Juist was not offered many opportunities after high school, but had a tradition to follow.

“I’d rather serve and die for my country than to disappoint and disgrace my family,” Juist reflected while sitting on his bed October of 2002 as a senior in high school.

Both his grandfathers served — one in World War II and the other in the Korean War. His father served in the Vietnam War and his brother during Desert Storm.

Following the football season of his senior year, Juist joined the Ohio Army National Guard. He became a combat medic and was attached to an infantry unit.

Juist served eight years in the National Guard. He has been deployed to Katrina to assist with relief for a month, and deployed to Egypt for a year to serve with the Multinational Force and Observers peace keepers.

“I never saw combat, and I am blessed for that,” Juist said.

With July 4 around the corner, fireworks will fill the skies of Cleveland, the smell of barbecues will linger in the noses of people celebrating, families will join under one roof and services will be conducted in honor of those who served for our country — past, present and deceased. But it also gives men and women who served like Juist a chance to reflect on the reason we celebrate this holiday more than 200 years later.

Men fought for our country’s independence from England in the 18th century.

“Taxation without representation,” filled the voices of the people who were forced to pay taxes under England’s King George III, without any representation in British Parliament.

Conflict between the 13 colonies and England began a year prior to the Second Continental Congress meeting in the summer of 1776 in Philadelphia.

On June 7, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia presented a resolution stating these famous words, “Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

These words sparked the draft of the Declaration of Independence, but the resolution was not carried out immediately. Four days later, June 11, the declaration was postponed by a vote of seven colonies to five.

A committee was formed to construct a statement presenting the colonies’ case for independence. Of the committee members, including John Adams, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston and Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson was the actual person to write the draft of the Declaration of Independence.

The following day, July 1, 1776, the Lee Resolution for independence was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies, New York not voting.

Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence required some minor changes, leaving the spirit of the document unchanged.

The revisions took through July 3 and into the late afternoon of July 4 – the Declaration was officially adopted.

Nine colonies voted in favor of the document – Pennsylvania and South Carolina declined, Delaware was undecided and New York abstained.

John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress, stamped the final approval on the Declaration of Independence.

The next day, copies of the Declaration of Independence hit the newspaper stands and were delivered. On July 6, The Pennsylvania Evening Post became the first newspaper to print the document.

“I think a lot about the meaning of the fireworks and always get goose bumps when I visualize the brave men fighting and then celebrating the victory that gave us our independence,” Juist said. “I do one day want to go to Washington DC on the Fourth of July weekend to join all of my fellow veterans in celebration.”

The Greater Cleveland Area is known for the diversity and being a go-to destination.
Marko Janjetovik came with his family to Parma from Germany when he was just three years old. He is now a sophomore at Cleveland State University studying communications.

Although their family celebrates the holiday in the same firework, barbeque way, it has a different meaning to them.

“It’s different,” Janjetovik said. “We barbeque and watch fireworks. We celebrate, but it probably means something different than people born and raised here.”

The Janjetovik’s are Croatian and Serbian and have different holidays that they celebrate for their countries on different days, such as the Croatian Independence Day on Oct. 8.

“Most people who live here probably don’t know the true meaning of the holiday,” Janjetovik said. “My mom took the citizenship test into work when we first came here and no one could pass it.”

They said that the citizenship test does not mean that you cannot know the true definition of the holiday or be patriotic for your country, but they feel that it is just a day off to most people.

The Fourth of July falls on a Friday this year, and most people will take their day off to join in on the festivals, parades, community celebrations, fireworks and more.
But the people in the armed forces may not be as lucky.

“They gave most of us time off from our normal duties and had a cookout,” Juist said. “We had a chance to hang out with our Officers and have normal conversation about life, sports and more.”

To him it is disrespectful to not celebrate in some way, whether it is just going to see fireworks or having a cookout.

“No matter what I will always celebrate,” he said. “From going to see fireworks and cookout to a moment of silence.”

Juist started attending Cleveland State University in 2009, already having completed his associate’s degree in Nuclear Engineering and transferred those credits to CSU to finish his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.

“I was a combat medic in the army and needed a change. I found I dwell on things too much and think too much, so I found engineering to be a good fit for me.”
Juist graduated this past May with honors, Cum Laude.

“It would have never been possible if it wasn’t for the army,” he said.

July 4 has been designated a national holiday to commemorate the day the United States laid down its claim to be a free nation. It is the anniversary of the publication of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776. The original document in housed in the National Archives in Washington D.C.