NewsPalm Beach CountyRegion C Palm Beach CountyWest Palm Beach


What does Independence Day mean to you?

Posted at 7:40 PM, Jul 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-04 19:40:24-04

July 4th is the time to celebrate all things that make us proud to be an American.

Some are doing that through cookouts, parades and fireworks. In fact, thousands are heading to downtown West Palm Beach for Fourth on Flagler.

But for others, the day represents the freedom so many desire and so many have fought for. With political turmoil dominating headlines this past year, we wanted to see how patriotic Americans are feeling this Fourth of July.

“Everyone’s together for the same reason. Everyone is out and enjoying each other’s company," said Danielle Fabian, who is visiting West Palm Beach from New York just to see the Fourth on Flagler.

We caught up with Fabian as she spent time with family on the downtown waterfront. She says this is her favorite holiday.

If there's anything we learned from her, it's that even a divided country can come together to celebrate its birthday.

“The bonds that make us stronger, the ones that bring us together and not break us apart," she said. “It’s going to have to show how much we — as a country — love each other by coming together more.”

For her brother, Kurrell Fabian, the holiday means more than just fireworks.

“It’s just having pride in being an American. Giving thanks to the people who fought for our country. Giving thanks to America," he said. “As an individual -- be the difference. Be the person to get everybody together.”

Fabian has a unique perspective on Independence Day. He was born in Manila, Philippines and immigrated to the United States when he was just six-years-old.

“We lived in a poor area, you know, had a tin roof. We moved a lot," he said. “I remember sleeping on the floor. We called it a lapag."

Kurrell grew up in Texas and New York. As an adult, Kurrell became a naturalized citizen just last year. He now goes to school in Baltimore.

“It’s a little more emotional for me because it’s my first Fourth of July as a true American," he said. "It feels good. It’s a big accomplishment. I’ve been really waiting for it.”

Army veteran Sophia Eccleston knows what that means.

“When I came to the us, the sky was the limit. There were so many opportunities," she said.

In fact, the City of West Palm Beach is recognizing her for it. On Tuesday night, as part of the Fourth on Flagler celebrations, the Wellington local will be presented the "Hometown Hero Award" for her service. Now working for Florida Power & Light, Eccleston is involved heavily in community groups that help the homeless and disadvantaged.

“I’m just a small piece of it," she said, when asked about receiving the award. "I’m just doing what I feel is right and what my passion is, but there are so many other people who are doing the same thing.”

Eccleston herself comes from humble beginnings.

“Grew up in Jamaica, born and raised," she said. “When I look at my life now, I’m like wow. I can’t believe this. I can’t believe I’m here.”

After moving to America at 18-years-old, she decided to give back to the country that gave her a chance.

“I thought, I can give something back -- because it changed not just my life, but my family’s life," she said. “I walked into a recruiting office and said, 'I wanted to join the army!'”

Stationed overseas in Europe, she eventually worked for the military in the Middle East during the war on terror.

“We lived on the Somali border if that gives you any idea. We lived in tents," she said of her time doing contract work for the military in the Horn of Africa.

Despite the divisions across the country when it comes to politics, race and religion, Eccleston told me for just one day, she hopes others can see what she sees in America.

"Remember, we're a nation united. And we've got stick to that," she said. “This is temporary, it’s not going to last. I just think we need to focus on doing what’s right. Doing the right thing."

Click here for more information on Fourth on Flagler.