Residents celebrate Fourth

By Justin Reedy

The Fourth of July means a lot of things to Southern Crescent residents, but for most, Independence Day is about patriotism and family.

The holiday was mostly a quiet one for public safety personnel, with no major car accidents reported in Clayton or Henry counties. One minor incident occurred when a motorcycle rider entering the Beach at Clayton County International Park swerved off the road to avoid a car that had stopped suddenly. The rider sustained multiple bone fractures, was airlifted to Atlanta Medical Center and was in stable condition, according to Battalion Chief James Maloy with the Clayton County Fire Department.

The Georgia State Patrol had predicted 1,893 crashes, 901 injuries and 19 fatalities on roads and highways throughout the state over the holiday weekend.

While police and emergency personnel spent the day dealing with holiday-related traffic and other incidents, local residents celebrated the Fourth of July in their own way.

McDonough residents Steve and Renee Brannon, who spent the day decked out in t-shirts and hats proudly sporting the American flag, say the Fourth is all about patriotism for them.

"It's a day to observe our troops and our country," said Renee. "We were lucky to be able to travel to Venezuela recently, and when you go to other countries you see what we have that they don't have. This is a great country, and it's just a great day to recognize it."

Jonesboro resident Brad Johnson likes Independence Day because it gives him a chance to spend time with his wife and three daughters. He took his two youngest daughters to the holiday parade in Jonesboro Friday morning and was headed for a fireworks display with the entire family Friday night.

"It's a good day off," Johnson said. "The Fourth of July is more of a family thing for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to live here, and this is the greatest country in the world."

Charles Fraley, a 69-year-old from Jonesboro, was spending another Fourth of July at the Masonic Lodge in Jonesboro for the organization's 39th annual barbecue charity fund-raiser. For Fraley, an Army veteran, the holiday is important because it honors America and the freedoms Americans enjoy.

"It means a lot to me, because I've been in the service," Fraley said. "A lot of people don't honor this day, but it means a lot to me. Honoring the country, honoring the flag. That flag means a lot – a lot of people died for that flag."

Morrow resident Dorothy Brandon would normally be spending Independence Day with her family, grilling out and enjoying each other's company. But since she relocated to Atlanta a few years ago from her native California, Brandon is thousands of miles from her family. Instead, she takes care of her adopted family – the men and women of the Morrow Police and Fire departments.

Using food and drinks donated from the Wal-Mart in Morrow, the Kroger in Lake City, and fellow Morrow residents Jean and Melvin Newman, Brandon cooked meals for all three shifts of emergency personnel in the city who had to work Friday. For her, it offers a chance to recognize and thank the people who take care of Morrow's citizens.

"These guys deserve recognition – I think they're grossly underpaid for the services they render," Brandon said.

So she sets up a pair of tables in her dining room and invites the public safety workers into her house for a home-cooked meal.

"I know they're working a holiday, and they want to be with their families, so I try and make it as much like a family thing as I can," she said. "Since my family is all in California, I just transfer the love."

Brandon has done the same for past Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays, and plans to keep up the tradition later this year.