Submitted on Thursday, 7/22/2021, at 1:39 PM

Writing for The Mammoth Times of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., McQuilkin interviews diverse young residents of her hometown of Bridgeport about the town’s famous Fourth of July celebration and the holiday itself. Their answers challenge the simplistic image of Bridgeport as a predominantly white, conservative, patriotic community. 

The article, and several of the interview subjects, acknowledge the importance of the annual celebration to the town’s economy. However, McQuilken writes, “[n]ot everyone believes in the ‘hyper-patriotism’ exhibited by so many on the Fourth of July. Instead, many believe that the holiday represents much of what flaws our nation, and they say, the day should instead be a day focused on education about the violence and oppression that are also part of the history of America, as well as what a path towards a more just and equal future could look like.”

“Layered and complex, these reflections on the Fourth of July overlap and diverge, and present a multitude of paradoxes,” McQuilken continues. “For the newest generation of Bridgeport locals who grew up within that paradox, radically rethinking the very purpose of that celebration, I think, provides many with something like hope.”