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Last week a joint effort between the Amery Fire Department, Police Department and Ambulance Service brought the second National Night Out (NNO) to downtown Amery. 

My husband brought our children into town and I met up with them after work. I could fill this entire edition of the Free Press with compliments and gratitude to the entities that made NNO possible. Because I am given a word limit, I will touch on a few things that really made an impact on me that evening. 

I saw members of all three departments volunteering their time to the event; I also saw members of their families supporting their loved ones in their mission to put on one heck of an event for attendees. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the families of the fire/police/EMTS for the their support of this project and for the times that their loved ones spend away from them to assist with the well being of others. I can’t imagine what that is like sometimes and it is important to know that your loved one is appreciated, as are you.

Secondly, during my time at this event I heard phrases, “Hello neighbor,” “The kids sure are getting big,” “What did you do this summer?” I saw smiling faces, giggles, high-fives and handshakes. 

What is even more important is what I did NOT hear or see during the three hours of NNO. I didn’t hear the words Republican or Democrat. Even in the aftermath of a turbulent weekend in the United States, I didn’t see debates over gun control. Let me state that debate/discussion on these topics is not only important but healthy and necessary in the right manner. It was also perfectly all right to take a break for three hours on this yearly evening of NNO. 

It wasn’t about giving up your beliefs or concerns for the night, it was about standing by a community member, eating a s’more and having a casual conversation regardless of their political affiliation. Maybe just maybe you were hoping to get in line when they crawled into the dunk tank or maybe you chatted about baseball and found out you had more in common than you realized.

The only anger I witnessed that evening was on the faces of children when their parents said it was time to head home.

Some of Tuesday night’s sentiments reminded me of a little concert that took place 50 years ago this month. 1969 was the poster child for tempestuous times. Held August 15–18, 1969, Woodstock attracted an audience of more than 400,000. 

The Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music”, was held at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York.

Though the festival included monstrous traffic jams, over flowing portable bathrooms, torrential rain, fly covered food, and a gargantuan crowd with no access to showers, attendees found Woodstock to be a treat. 

Was it simply good vibes that kept Woodstock nonviolent? Maybe people were simply ready to have three days where differing opinions on war and sadness over the losses of MLK and RFK were momentarily set aside.

Lead singer of British band “The Who”, Roger Daltry, has said that he doesn’t think the bands were the stars of Woodstock. “In my mind, it was the audience. They were the stars, that half a million people that put up with that crap [laughs] for three days,” said Daltry. The Who themselves didn’t appreciate the hours waiting to go on stage and the struggle to keep their energized anarchy at bay until they were finally allowed to unveil the rock opera “Tommy” at 5 A. M. the next morning. In fact it almost had them packing their bags and leaving. Still, Daltry does admire the coming together of  community during the festival.

In “Imagine” John Lennon said, “Imagine all the people living in peace…I hope someday you will join us and the world will live as one.” I think that is a pretty large feat. I am not even sure the three days of August 1969 could take place again. What I do know, is that three hours of setting differences aside can happen in a small town- and that is a start.

I enjoy sharing my thoughts with you and look forward to readers sharing their thoughts in return.

Feel free to email me at editor@theameryfreepress.com, write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery WI. 54001 or I can be reached by phone at 715-268-8101.

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