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Young, & proud to be American
Students weigh in on freedom and the spirit of the Fourth of July
From left, Jessica Thomas, Crystal Thomas and Delaney Waters, pose for a portrait on the playground at the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center. The trio said the Fourth of July is about celebrating freedom and spending time with family. - photo by BRANDEE A. THOMAS

He may not be able to spell Declaration of Independence, but Kade Morgan enjoys a good Fourth of July celebration all the same.

"I like going to see the fireworks," said Kade, a 7-year-old, Jefferson Elementary School student.

"I like the colors and the noise, but Cooper (his 1-year-old brother) doesn't."

Like Kade, many people associate July Fourth with fireworks and barbecues, but some students focus more on the independence side of things.

"We celebrate the fourth as the day that the U.S. showed we have our own free agency and we weren't going to give it up without a fight," said Crystal Thomas, a 13-year-old student from Habersham County.

"It makes me proud to be an American."

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, which announced the colonies' separation from British authority. The document declares that all men are created equal and are born with certain "inalienable rights," including "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

"That was when we first got our freedom," said Delaney Waters, a 13-year-old student Habersham County student. "And we're still fighting for our freedom today."

Among other reasons, the colonists wanted to split from Great Britain because they felt as if they were being unjustly taxed, denied the rights to a trial by jury and forced to endure a heavy, royal military presence even in times of peace.

"They wanted freedom," said Jada Alexander, a 10-year-old Gainesville resident.

"The king wasn't being fair to the Americans, so they wanted to make their own government."

In colonial times, freedom meant the colonists' ability to govern themselves. More than 200 years later, that still holds true.

"Being free means that nobody can tell you what to do," said Willa Pearsal, a 5-year-old Habersham County resident.

"It means you get to choose for your own self."

Jessica Thomas, a 17-year-old Habersham student, has a very specific idea of how the holiday should be commemorated.

"It means spending time with your family," Jessica said. "And enjoying your freedom and celebrating your independence."

And enjoying that freedom for Josh Whitfield, a 6-year-old Flowery Branch resident, means the holiday just wouldn't be right without a hot dog fixed just the way he likes it.

"I like my hot dogs with ketchup and mustard," Josh said. "And with coleslaw. But just a little bit, cause I don't want my bread to be wet."