Let’s remember that the American spirit is about honoring the heritage of our land of liberty.

By Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi

Thank you, organizers of the Freedom Fest events, for bringing back our local celebration of America’s birthday. We were happy to see so many people enjoying the 2021 festivities.

They kicked off with the Patriotic Sing by children at the Morgan Hill Downtown Amphitheater the evening of July 3. This was followed by the annual Family Music Fest along Monterey Road, which featured music by local talent including Alison Turner and the band The Recurrents, who coincindentally played at my wedding two years ago.

July 4th morning started with lots of sweat as plenty of people pounded the pavement in the annual Freedom Run/Walk 5K. This was followed by the Car Cruise and the Independence Day Parade that brought out big crowds. And the Freedom Fest events brought residents back to the Outdoor Sports Center where they enjoyed more music and fun events including a messy pie-eating contest. The celebration ended with a bang — or a whole series of them — as fireworks shot up into the night shortly after 9 p.m. and filled the sky with a blaze of color.

Last year we missed out on Freedom Fest because of the pandemic. Let’s remember that the American spirit is not about hot dogs, parades and fireworks. It’s about honoring the heritage in our land of liberty given to us by the sacrifices made by so many men and women over the course of our country’s 245 years of history.

Let’s also bear in mind the loss of life the South Valley faced from the COVID-19 crisis. Residents placed white flags on the City Hall plaza the morning of July 1 to honor the people of Morgan Hill who died because of the virus. Morgan Hill saw 58 of its residents die from the disease. Gilroy had 120 people who died.

Let us never forget what we went through as a community from the pandemic. And we encourage our local residents to get a vaccination to help contain the spread of the disease.

The Circle of Giving, a humanitarian initiative program organized by the Indian Association of South Santa Clara County, will hold its first annual drive-thru food and care package distribution to help people in need. The pop-up drive-thru will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 17, at the Morgan Hill Community Center. Food and hygiene kits will be distributed.

For more details, contact Poonam Chabra by email at [email protected] or call/text (408) 310-3515.

“We are dedicated to serving the most vulnerable members  of south Santa Clara County,” she said. “Our ongoing programs  provide home cooked meals and care packages to homeless shelters, essential items to farmworkers, and free tutoring to students who otherwise would not have been able to get access to private tutors for 1:1 sessions.”

Photo courtesy Gilroy Unified School District GECA graduating senior Ephraim Aung displays his mockup check for $180,000 presented to him by the U.S. Marine Corps. He intends to serve as a military pilot.

Congratulations to Ephraim Aung who last month graduated from the Gilroy Early College Academy with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in natural science. His goal is to become a pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps and he was awarded the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps — NROTC Marine Option Scholarship. The $180,000 award is only given to 60 high school seniors throughout the United States.

Aung intends to be a pilot in service to his country.

“The reason I chose the Marines is because they hold themselves to the highest standards — and I respect that,” he said.  “I’ve lived in Gilroy for most of my life and I am grateful for all of the opportunities I found here. I hope to do my family and my nation proud.”

Robert Airoldi