For some, political divisions taint patriotic mood on nation’s birthday

Sentiment seems to be: “We need to come together.”

Like every Fourth of July, Americans Tuesday will celebrate the nation’s birthday with fireworks, hot dogs and red-white-and-blue everything.

But for Judy Ward of Kettering, political rancor in Washington and at home gives this year’s celebration a less patriotic feel.

Kettering’s Judy Ward, 47, feels that this Fourth of July is different. “It really doesn t feel like the Fourth of July to me this year,” Ward said.
Photo: Staff Writer

“It really doesn’t feel like the Fourth of July to me this year,” said Ward, who has found herself on opposite sides with friends, family and co-workers. “It’s like, everyone is so busy trying to justify their side that they’re not listening to the other people anymore.

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“And that’s a shame.”

Not everyone feels that same way. Molly Winblad of Tipp City said she feels “more patriotic than ever,” and Miamisburg’s Courtney Christie said her school community has stayed united through the polarizing presidential election and its aftermath.

But many people throughout the region acknowledged being troubled by the nation’s mood, even as belief in the flag and what it stands for remains strong.

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Kristen Greason, 28, of Dayton talked about the need for the nation to come together.

Dayton's Kristen Greason, 28, talked about the need for the nation to come together. "I think we're more separate now than we have been in the past, but I think people are more desperate now to be united than they have been before, because we're all aware of that sense of separation," Greason said.
Photo: GRANT PEPPER

“I think we’re more separate now than we have been in the past, but I think people are more desperate now to be united than they have been before, because we’re all aware of that sense of separation,” Greason said.

Here are some of the other responses:

Monica Alexander, a 20 year-old graphic designer from Cincinnati who works in Tipp City, says that communication is at the root of the nation's polarization. "We're pretty divided with communication," Alexander said. "Everyone has a different view and it seems that everyone is kind of scattered."
Photo: JOE GURNIG

Monica Alexander, 20, from Cincinnati

“We’re pretty divided with communication. Everyone has a different view and it seems that everyone is kind of scattered.”

Billy Boucuvalas, a 14 year-old from Oakwood, was fishing with his friends at the Fraze Pavilion pond last Wednesday when he was asked about the nation s divide. He believes that social class issues and last year's presidential election are the central causes of the country's conflict, but that he has hope for a bright future.
Photo: GRANT PEPPER

Billy Boucuvalas, 14, Oakwood

“I do believe that there is a bias going on, where the poor feel like the rich are lucky but the rich feel like the poor are lazy, and I think that’s one of the things that’s dividing two different classes of people. I still believe that we are united, but I do feel like there are some feelings between the classes. That’s one of the things that was dividing people — the election — but I feel like we’ve united since then.”

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Richard Burnett, a 65 year-old from Kettering, believes that most people aren't fully aware of the nation's divide. He says that most of the conflict stems from politics, and specifically, the inability of politicians to work with each other.
Photo: GRANT PEPPER

Richard Burnett, 65, Kettering

“It seems like the [political] parties just don’t want to agree on anything. Most people are concerned, but some really don’t know what’s going on — either they don’t read the news or whatever. Are we divided? I would definitely think so.”

Miamisburg teacher Courtney Christie, 24, said her students and co-workers stayed unified throughout the past year. “In America, I feel like sometimes we go through bad times, and sometimes [we go through] good times,” she said.
Photo: Staff Writer

Courtney Christie, 24, Miamisburg

“In America, I feel like sometimes we go through bad times, and sometimes [we go through] good times. But in the end, I feel like we’re all Americans, so nothing’s really changed yet.”

Cody Clark, a 26 year-old from Dayton, believes that the country is "more divided now than we have been in a long time."
Photo: GRANT PEPPER

Cody Clark, 26, Dayton

“I’m definitely willing to believe that we’re more divided as a country now than we have been in a long time. Everybody is either for or against the president, and it’s just putting people at ends with each other — socially, racially, and just straight out politically. It has affected me, just seeing people that I know and love go at ends with each other.”

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Dayton's Frank Hart, 46, thinks that the U.S. was divided long before last year's election. "It is divided, but it's been divided," Hart said.
Photo: GRANT PEPPER

Justin Green, 36, Beavercreek

“I think in some ways we are united. I definitely see different groups starting to come together, dealing with different issues within the culture of our nation. But also, with that I think you see the disunity because some of the other groups are starting to pull away from each other instead of finding that unity. When we’re dealing with issues that tend to pull people apart, I think that people start to look to organizations and to different areas where they can find that unity. So, I think [the church] is more important now, but as a pastor, I feel that it’s always been that important.”

Justin Green, a 36 year-old youth pastor at Beavercreek Baptist Church, says that he has seen people turn more towards the church in times of conflict.
Photo: GRANT PEPPER

Frank Hart, 46, Dayton

“It is divided, but it’s been divided. You come into the ghetto, and then you go somewhere like Kettering, Centerville, Oakwood, and you see the houses… you can tell it’s divided. And it’s not divided on one thing, it’s divided on a lot of things. We’re divided between poor and wealthy. We’re divided on education, money and business. But we’ve been divided for a long time. It goes all the way back.”

Morgan Robinson, 19, Centerville

“Our country is really separated, very polarized, and we’re all aware of it, but we’re not making any kind of a difference about it. We’re all stuck in our own train of thought, our own opinion, and we’re not listening to the other side. So we’re kind of stuck right now, because we’re so stubborn and won’t listen to anyone else.”

Anita Sink, a 53 year-old from Covington, was eating with her family at Huber Heights' Thomas Cloud Park last Wednesday. She believes that the nation is split on some key issues, but is it going to put a damper on her holiday? "Not really," Sink said.
Photo: GRANT PEPPER

Anita Sink, 53, Covington

“I do feel like we’re more divided on every issue, whether it be moral, economic.”

Mon Williams, 17, Dayton

“We’re divided a lot. If we worked together, we’d get a lot accomplished. But people aren’t trying to help each other, and we’re divided. People don’t want to come together as one.”

Tipp City's Molly Winblad, 55, says that she "feels more patriotic than ever." She says that while the nation is somewhat split, it is important for the citizens to come together as Americans.
Photo: JOE GURNIG

Molly Winblad, 55, Tipp City

“There is some separation, but the nation needs to come together for the good of the people.”

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