Let the political chains that bind you break as you celebrate America’s freedom

IRON MOUNTAIN — Several years ago, during the summer before I officially moved to Chicago, I spent the Fourth of July weekend in the city with my brother. That was the only year I’ve spent the Fourth in Chicago, and in that city, the Fourth of July is one of the deadliest weekends, with shootings and murders climbing to an alarming height. It can truly be mayhem, and on that weekend, while my brother and I ate our dinner, I was reminded of just how precious life is.

When we decided that we would go to the Pier for the day, we did so knowing that it would be extremely crowded. When we arrived, the wait time for eating at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. was nearly two hours, and so we instead decided to eat next door at Harry Caray’s, which was a significantly shorter wait at only 30 minutes. If you were to ask me, I couldn’t tell you what we had or even if it was that good, but I can tell you exactly when my stomach jumped into my throat.

We were sitting in a booth that was close to the entrance, so close that you could actually see everything that was outside of it plain as day. Halfway through our appetizer, a series of what sounded like machine gun shots rang through the halls of Navy Pier. They were not slow, or methodical; they were not bursts or single shots. They were a steady flow of repetitious warnings of death.

I can still see the people sitting at tables and booths around us hit the floor and run to the back of the restaurant. Everyone was screaming. I can see my brother in that moment vividly. His eyes widened, and the first thing he did was jump up, grab my arm, and pull me behind a wall near the bathrooms. In the fleeting seconds that it took to move from the red leather of our table to the dark wood of the bathroom walls, I genuinely thought I might die.

Nearly as quickly as the “shots” had begun, they seemed to end. People were hesitant to move, and it seemed as if no one was even breathing. It turned out that someone had lit off a series of firecrackers in the center area of the shopping center, and because of the echoes and terrified screams of those around them, they had been easily mistaken for gun shots. As if nothing had even happened, everyone seemed to go back about their business.

My brother and I were shook, but we managed to laugh it off, and we continued with our meal. Little did I know that four months after the Fourth, I would have a gun in my classroom. I went from living in a place where when gunshots were fired, a deer died on the other side, to when gunshots were fired you had to check the papers to see if it was someone you knew.

Surprisingly enough, I was more afraid for my life when I was at the Pier with my brother than I was when there was a firearm just feet away from me. In the hours that I spent deciphering where the gun was, I was calm. Eerily calm. I couldn’t tell you what I was wearing, or even how my classroom layout looked at the time, but again, I can tell you what happened when my stomach jumped into my throat. In the briefest moment of panic, where I thought my life might end at 24, all I could think about was my family. After I got the kids going on their assignment, and after I’d slipped the “note” to another faculty member to begin the proper proceedings, I sat down at my desk, pulled my phone out, and sent a simple mass text to the people I most cared about. All it said was “I love you.” Later, my mother would tell me that she knew something was wrong, because it was such a random text at such a random time. My aunt, too, said that when she received that message, she stopped what she was doing and prayed.

I’ve often looked back on both of these incidents and realized the immense blessing it was that I survived, and not only that I survived, but that I was able to let my family know that they were at the forefront of my mind. I was given a gift in two ways; I was able to show love, and I was able to live. Like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July is similarly celebrated. We’re psyched to have a day off work, pumped to spend time with friends and family, and thrilled to eat more than we normally do and have it be acceptable. We decorate with flags and stars, blast off fireworks and sparklers, and compete in friendly yard games, but typically, we don’t really think about what the day actually means.

So many years ago, when we won our freedom, parades and fireworks represented so much more than a day off work. They represented the demolition of repression; they represented the celebration of sacrifice, and the power of perseverance. Unlike me, the men and women who died fighting for our country couldn’t send out an “I love you” text to their loved ones. They couldn’t go back to eating their calamari and laugh off the “gunshots” they just experienced. The men and women who have served and are currently serving this nation that stands for so much are the only ones truly deserving of any kind of patriotic celebration.

Even if you’re unhappy with the way this world seems to be going, or the tides that have turned throughout the years of government, revel in the fact that you live in a country that is protected and always has been protected by those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so that you can live. People you’ve never met and will never meet fight every day to give you a better life than the one you’d have if they didn’t. This year, on the Fourth, forget your political standings. Forget your political woes. Instead, stand with pride for those who never got to send the “I love you” text that they should have; stand with pride in honor of those who aren’t on U.S. soil but still bear our flag; stand for those who always stand for you.

——

Freeman

Kingsford

Scenes and sounds, 11:45 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

Sunday: UNO, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Pretty nails, 10 a.m.; library cart, 11 a.m.; brouhaha, 1:15 p.m.; bingo, 2p.m.; ice cream, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Crafts, 10 a.m.; reminisce, 1:15 p.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Patriotic bingo, 10:30 a.m.; rosary, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; movie, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Reading buddy, 10 a.m.; Bible study, 11 a.m.; what’s the word?, 1:15 p.m.; pokereno, 2 p.m.

Friday: Mass, 11 a.m.; bunko, 1:15 p.m.; sing a long, 2:30 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; spinning records, 11 a.m.; Daily News, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Iron County Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Room visits, 1 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

Exercise, 11 a.m., Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

Sunday: One to one church visitors, 8:30 a.m.; reminisce, 10 a.m.; room visits, 9 to 11 a.m.; brass band, 2:30 p.m.; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.; bonfire, 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Book Club, 10 a.m.; prayer, 10 a.m.; mystery ride, 1 p.m.; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; romance movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Coffee social, 10 a.m.; patriotic trivia, 10 a.m.; Garden Club/reminisce, 2 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; St. Mark’s, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; Activity Council, 2 p.m.; musical movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: ICMCF flea market, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; room to room bingo, 10 a.m.; hangman, 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 a.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.

ManorCare

Kingsford

Wet your whistle, 9:30 a.m. daily.

Movie, 10:45 a.m. daily, and 3:15 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Gathering place, 11:40 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 11:40 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Popcorn Day Fridays.

Protestant Church service, 3 p.m. Sunday.

Exercises, 10 a.m. daily.

Sunday: Wet your whistle, 9:30 a.m.; just jokes, 10:15 a.m.; inside out visits, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant Church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Who, what, when, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; pokeno, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Trivia, 10:15 a.m.; Wheel of Fortune, 2 p.m.; movie and a manicure, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Fourth of July parade, 9 a.m.; patriotic bingo, 2 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; Good Neighbor bingo, 2 p.m.; crafts, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: All about July, 10:15 a.m.; Mass, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie, 3:15 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Parachute, 1:30 p.m. daily.

Monthly support group for grief and loss, 2 p.m. second Monday of the month.

Weekend pet visits.

For this week’s activities, please contact the home.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Coffee clutch, 9:30 a.m. daily

Shopping days: 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, must sign up.

Sunday: Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Wheel of Fortune, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Happy Fourth of July.

Thursday: Left, center, right, 10 a.m.; Rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Sunday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; Uno, 2 p.m.

Monday: Chair exercises, 10 a.m.; bingo with Bette, 2 p.m.; room visits, 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Yard games, 10 a.m.; wind sock craft, 2 p.m.; one-on-one time, 3:30 p.m.; reading from “The Dog from Rodeo Drive,” 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Music with Valri, 2 p.m.; social hour, 3:30 p.m.

Thursday: Lutheran service, 10 a.m.; manicures and massages, 2 p.m.; apple turnover party, 3:30 p.m.

Friday: Catholic communion service, 10 a.m.; table top bowling, 2 p.m.; one-on-one time, 3:30 p.m.; music and movement, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; strawberry sundae party, 2 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility

Powers

Life connections, 9:45 a.m. every Monday.

Busy bee, 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Rosary 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Sunday: Parade, 10 a.m.; outside social, 2 p.m.

Monday: Song service, 1 p.m.; Rosary, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Undecorating the float, 10 a.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; one on one visits, 3:30 p.m.; card night, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Outside social, 10 a.m.; painting, 2 p.m.; Rummy, 3:30 p.m.

Thursday: Exercise, 10 a.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; reminiscing, 6 p.m.

Friday: Mass, 10 a.m.; Bunco, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Current events, 2 p.m.; beach ball toss, 10 a.m.; Bunco, 2 p.m.; trivia, 2 p.m.

Victorian Heights

Crystal Falls

906-874-1000

Activities director is out on leave. Call the home for additional information.

SENIOR CENTERS

Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. If you have meals delivered and will not be home, notify the center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center

906-875-3315

Meal noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Amasa Center

906-822-7284

Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Breen Center

906-774-5110

Meals Monday through Friday.

Pasty sale every third Saturday of the month.

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m.

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are on the first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with dinner at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Crystal Falls Center

Head Cook, Lucy Korhonen

906-875-6709

Meals will be served on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 5 p.m., with the salad bar opening at 4:30 p.m. The dinner donation is $5 for those age 60 and older and $6 for those younger than 60. There is a $1 charge for take-out containers. All are invited.

Cribbage will be played at 1 p.m. Wednesdays and be concluded in time for dinner.

The center is closed Thursday through Sunday.

Monday: Soup, salad, meatballs and gravy, over noodles, veggies, homemade dessert.

Tuesday: Soup, salad, grilled BBQ country ribs, buttered noodles, peas, homemade dessert.

Wednesday: Closed for the Fourth.

Thursday: Closed for the Fourth.

A site council meeting takes place at 3 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month.

A blood pressure reading can be taken by request at any time while the center is open.

Crystal Lake Center

906-774-5888

The center is closed on weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; Bridge Club, 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m., crafters, scrap bookers and others also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 to 3 p.m.

Friday: Smear, 12:30 p.m.

Last Saturday of the month: Music jam starting at 1 p.m. Admission is free.

Dances take place from 7 to 10 p.m. on the second and fourth Fridays of the month. Admission is $6; coffee is free.

The Photo Club meets 1 to 3 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.

Evening meals are usually on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with the meal served at 4:30 p.m. A donation of $4 is accepted for seniors age 60 and older but not required.

Home-delivered meals are for seniors 60 and older can be delivered seven days a week. Suggested donation is $4 per meal. For information, call Chris Tramotin at 906-774-2256, ext. 235.

Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call the center to book a ride.

Felch Center

906-246-3559

Meals served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.

Bingo after lunch on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

A congregate jigsaw puzzle is done daily.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County

715-528-4890

Director: Tiffany White

Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations needed 48 hours in advance.

The ADRC can assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation Monday through Friday. Transportation reservation should be made with meal reservation.

Four senior dining locations are listed below:

Fence Center/Town Hall

715-336-2980

Meal at noon Wednesdays only. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

715-528-4261

Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Jigsaw puzzles, cards, cribbage and board games are available. The coffee is always on as well.

Senior Dining Center-NWTC, Aurora

715-589-4491

Serving lunch at 11:30 am, Monday through Thursday

Tipler Town Hall

715-674-2320

Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

715-589-4491

Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Jigsaw puzzles, cribbage, cards and board games are available. The coffee is always on as well.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska

906-498-7735

Meal is at noon Monday through Friday. Suggested donation is $3 for age 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60.

Morning coffee is available daily.

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday, along with a 50/50 drawing.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon. Call ahead to see if a game will be going on.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill also is available.

Friendly interaction with other crafters.

Iron River Center

906-265-6134

Meals served 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; a $4 donation is encouraged from those 60 and older, and a $5 payment is required from those younger than 60.

Thursday meal, 4 p.m. salad bar, with dinner at 4:30 p.m.

DICSA operates all meals and transportation out of the Iron River Center. Rides are $2.50 donation for age 60 and older, and $3 required for younger than 60. Call 906-265-6134 to schedule a ride

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Corrie Maule, Meal site manager, 715-251-1603

Jill Anderson, senior center director, 715-251- 4154

Noon meals served Monday through Thursday.

Transportation to the meal site from the Niagara, Wis., area is offered.

They welcome any senior groups that would like to use the meal site as a meeting place — join them for lunch and then stay for a meeting or social time.

Wii games, cards, puzzles and board games are available to play.

Other activities are in the works — suggestions are always welcome.

Those who have not been at the meal site/senior center are invited to give it a try. Those who haven’t been here in a while are encouraged to come back.

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining

906-563-8716

Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon, with salad bar. Soup also is available at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea, and coffee served daily. Meal donation is $5. Reservation for the meal should be made in advance.

Two special-themed meals take place each month, with bingo, prizes and a 50/50 drawing.

Two evening meals offered at 5 p.m. on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month, with bingo, prizes and a 50/50.

If Norway-Vulcan are schools are closed due to snow days, so is the senior center. If the schools are on a two-hour delay, the center remains open.

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always in the works.

A senior coloring class meets daily. All are welcome. Some materials will be provided.

Telephone reassurance is available for any senior who doesn’t get out much and would like a friendly daily phone check to see that all is well.

Monday — Noon meal with chicken divan over egg noodles, broccoli salad, fruit, juice, salad bar, and dessert.

Monday — Dinner at 5 p.m. with spaghetti and meatballs, green beans, garlic toast, soup and salad bar, and dessert. Bingo, prizes and 50/50 available; sign up early.

Wednesday — Center will be closed for the holiday.

Note: A CSFP food card (green card) is available to income-eligible seniors. Make an appointment to get signed up. File of Life packets available at the center.

Note: Ask about the Medicare Savings Program. This program helps people pay their Medicare part B premium. You may be eligible. The local MMAP counselor can be reached at 1-800-803-7174, or dial 211.

Sagola Center

906-542-3273

Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m.

Cards: Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday.

Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months.

A puzzle table is available to enjoy.

Volunteers are always welcome.

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