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  • Writer's pictureRandy Reid

A Note from Managing Editor Catherine White

America - What Does it Mean to You?

This month Americans recognize the ratification of the Declaration of Independence, which officially announced the 13 North American colonies’ freedom from Great Britain, by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776 (approximately).

Being an American means different things to different Americans, depending on their experience, which is as varied as the country’s population.

I was brought up on the idea that America is a melting pot, blending all of the ethnicities together for a spicy, rich and scrumptious soup of blended culture – from St. Patrick’s Day and Pride parades to Oktoberfests and Juneteenth celebrations – all Americans, no matter where they (or their ancestors) come from, pledging allegiance and loyalty to each other as citizens of these United States. I LOVE this idea of America. A blend of the best ALL this world has to offer, living, loving and celebrating each other’s differences as well as our shared connection through citizenship to a country founded on the premise of a government system by, of and for its people.

At the risk of alienating some of you, and with all due respect, I haven’t felt much like celebrating my country as of late, and I notice that many of my fellow citizens have expressed similar dissatisfaction with the current state of America. Our fellow citizens, of all ethnicities, religions, ages and genders are being gunned down while going about their everyday lives. An entire gender of our citizenry was recently told by the Supreme Court that their status – whether they’re deemed capable of making decisions about their own bodies, depends on the state they live in. That’s not hyperbole and, in a country that prides itself on individual freedom, the idea that a 10-year-old girl raped by her uncle can be further traumatized by the state she resides in forcing her to bear that product of incestuous rape, is repugnant.

This is America? IS this America?

In April, Southern Tier Life started a series to highlight area poets and the art of poetry. Each month since, we’ve featured a poet, their work and writing process. This month, particularly, after the last few months, I wanted to offer a space for you, the citizens of the Southern Tier, to express what America means to you. I reached out to our previous contributors and, thankfully, Aleathia Drehmer and Kidd Williams agreed to participate, submitting thoughtful pieces that resonated with me, inspiring me to attempt this form of self expression to communicate my complicated feelings about my homeland. I invite those of you so inclined to share your thoughts on what America means to you in poetic form, to submit your work along with your name and any directives you have for posting your work, to Whether or not you choose to participate, I hope that you’ll return throughout the month to check out the submissions we receive. We’re kicking off this month’s series with our first contributing poet Aleathia Drehmer, and her Thoughts on America.

Be sure to visit the Minding Your Business page to see the latest small business features, including Kaleidoscope Studios, Filomena Jack Studio and The Great Escape Ice Cream Parlor.

This month, Southern Tier Life will also feature a story from contributor Chris Brewster, about Bud Fowler, a pioneering Black baseball player who played in Binghamton in the 1890s, and is being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame July 24.

In case you missed it, Elmira humorist Jim Pfiffer offers both serious and silly recollections of the 1972 flood that devastated the Southern Tier. Both pieces are worth the read.

Now that summer’s in full swing, if you’re looking to get out and socialize, there are plenty of community events and activities to choose from. Check out what’s going on throughout the region via our Events page, which is updated frequently.

Finally, if you weren’t able to visit the Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall when it was in the area, you can see highlights of that exhibit’s time in the region, thanks to John R. Trice’s video compilation. One of John’s video compilations of our region is also STL’s featured header. You can see more videos of the scenic Southern Tier by subscribing to his YouTube page here.

Contact Southern Tier Life

Email your story ideas to From local business to community events, outdoor recreation, arts, history and culture; I hope you’ll explore, share and celebrate all that makes the Southern Tier a great place to live and love.


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