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How are people in the Bay Area feeling about the 4th of July?

An American flag flies near the San Francisco waterfront
Harvey Barrison / Flickr
Flickr / Creative Commons
An American flag flies near the San Francisco waterfront

Does the 4th of July feel a little different this year? We headed over to the Ferry Building and asked people where they are in their headspace.

Sarah from Alameda, was on a day trip with friends. She was checking a map, and deciding on their next destination after the Ferry Building. For her, Independence Day is a reminder to stay engaged politically.

“I feel a little not proud to be an American this year, because our former president having immunity and not being held accountable for the crimes he committed. And it’s quite scary living this time where our democracy is under trial. 

Veronica, from Marin, was helping chaperone a kids trip to the city. As another adult helped her group explore the Ferry Building, she enjoyed a little downtime, overlooking the Bay from a pier. She said the main focus is to simply try and focus on the now:

I’m doing my best to be present everyday no matter what is going around me, in the world, or in my family or in my bubble. So I’m feeling good about today and I'm just working on being here now. 

Steve, along with his wife and daughter, were visiting from just outside London, where the United Kingdom is having its own election — today, on the 4th of July. He spoke to me outside the Ferry Building, just as the food trucks were gearing up for the lunch rush. Steve said he’s unsure how individuals can really make a difference in any political system:

Actually I’m quite ambivalent towards it. I think that what goes on in the political world, we have some influence but really how much difference can we make as individuals. What will be will be, whether it’s Bush or Biden or whether it’s Sunak or Starmer in the UK,  how much will it make a difference to me as an individual? I don’t think it's a huge amount.”

Another Steve, from San Francisco, was propped up on a pedicab, listening to music, and taking a breather in the shade on what felt like a really hot day downtown. He said focusing on work helps him alleviate some of the stress of the news cycle.

“My mind was a little twisted up by it all. It’s sort of surreal to see that debate performance immediately followed by the Supreme Court decision. At first I was like, oh man, I had a little bit of trouble sleeping and then once I got out here, I’m going to fight this by keep going with what I’m already doing”

Hope, trepidation, a little ambivalence, and doing the best we can with what we have. All of these thoughts, and more, are what we heard about America at this moment in time in 2024 as we celebrate the country’s 248th birthday.

I'm thrilled to be a participant in the KALW News Summer Journalism Program. I have a passion for work that is public service-oriented and helps foster information literacy—a fascination that first developed while I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Central Asia.