Canceled events bring out patriotism in students

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Even without fireworks, the Fourth of July is a time for celebration and reflection for UT students.

Photo Credit: Trent Lesikar | Daily Texan Staff

In light of cancelled fireworks shows and other events in Travis County, some students are taking a break from parties and parades to reflect on their patriotic values.

City officials cancelled this year’s fireworks show on Lady Bird Lake because of the fire hazard posed by a drought that began in October. The Austin Symphony Orchestra also cancelled its annual performance due to a lack of funding and uncertain attendance.

Biology junior Stephanie Philip said she was disappointed in the cancellations because she was looking forward to celebrating Independence Day in the state capital for the first time, but she plans on celebrating with friends to commemorate the holiday’s values.

“I think everybody has their own sense of independence, especially after coming to college, and it’s important to come together and celebrate that idea,” Philip said. “With everything we’ve accomplished as a country this past year with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we can really be proud of what it means to be an American.”

Philip said growing up in the post-9/11 era has allowed her to recognize the progress the nation has made in overcoming the effects of facing the crisis. She said finding freedom from the fear of terrorism is a struggle her generation has witnessed first hand.

“Looking back on what happened after Sept. 11, we faced this tragedy but we didn’t let it affect who we were as people,” she said. “We really made it a point to come together at that time, and every Sept. 11 and Fourth of July after that has been a reminder that we are a country that stands together.”

Biology senior Jessie Hunter said she feels events of this past year such as the capture of Osama bin Laden have deterred attention from the values of patriotism, and she hopes people will focus on the positive aspects of what it means to be an American this July Fourth.

“I think a lot of the principles the country was founded on have run [amok] in political circles in the past few years,” Hunter said. “As an American, I value the idea that we’re in a place with so many different kinds of people and we can carry out a conversation about our disagreements without worrying about negative repercussions.”

Americans may forget how revolutionary the nation’s principles of freedom are, because they are accepted as a universal right today, said mathematics junior Nilan Jayasuriya. He said Independence Day is an opportunity to reflect on those values.

“I wouldn’t say my idea of what it means to be an American was shaped completely by 9/11 because I was too young to understand the full significance of it,” Jayasuriya said. “I think my generation places importance on being connected with other people and breaking boundaries, and the crisis did help to connect us.”