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B. Rae Perryman on a visit to her hometown of Waco, TX.

I appreciate how welcomed I’ve felt to Dundalk in my half a year here at The Eagle, and I wanted to take the time to express my gratitude. I cannot thank Joe Falbo enough for all he has done for the Heritage Fair and the parade.

Joe cares deeply about his community, and has the class and skill to manage people and events properly. He, along with the countless unnamed volunteers and donors that contribute their time and efforts to these sister events, makes this all happen.

And it’s great, every year.

I can’t wait to experience it for myself!

It’s the 85th annual parade, and it’s The Eagle‘s 50th year. Not many community newspapers are as vibrant and beloved as ours, especially in 2019. We are so blessed, proud and grateful to be your voice for news. Come by our tent at the fair and say hi!

I want to also remind everyone that patriotism doesn’t have to look a certain way. I absolutely love being an American, and believe it’s the greatest country in the world. But that doesn’t mean we are a perfect nation. And it doesn’t mean that we don’t have a long history of preferential treatment of certain groups or types of people. We are a country made up of extremely fallible humans, after all. Peaceful protest can be patriotic.

Luckily, I have great hope that we get more things right than we do wrong. And I continue to believe in and have an abiding affection for the promise and the project of representative government and this great country.

Recently, the North Point branch of the public library hosted an LGBTQ-and-family friendly fun day, ostensibly in honor of Pride Month. It warms my heart to know that people in our community participated, and that there are places in Dundalk where all types of people and families can feel safe, respected and celebrated.

And, if you haven’t noticed by now, I’m only a writer because I am first and foremost a reader. Public libraries are one of the most wonderful things about our country. So are public schools and public parks — including state and national ones!

I love the cities, towns, neighborhoods, communities and vast countryside that makes up our great nation. I hope you have the opportunity to see as much of it as you can. It will make you appreciate your home, and you will meet many and learn much. I owe a huge debt to my family for prioritizing travel as part of a supplemental education to my public school education.

During my time in Dundalk, I have fallen in love with the warmth and humor of most people here. But, I also hear a lot of negative rhetoric aimed at certain groups or types of people. As a fellow American, I believe in you — and I challenge you to examine why and for what reason you might not speak peace.

Remember, you must model the behavior you’d like to see from your neighbors and fellow countrymen. The more friends you make who might think differently from you, the more you can learn.

There’s lots to be proud of on this Independence Day. And I couldn’t be more grateful to you for being my fellow Americans, and for celebrating with your support a continued free and independent press. See you at the fair and the parade!