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Just a Couple of Regular Americans

Never mind the Swedish accents, Gerd and Ulf Hammarskjold are as American as anyone else out celebrating the Fourth of July this year. They just weren't born that way.

"America is like all of Europe but in one country," said Gerd. She and her husband were out at the Westport annual fireworks display enjoying the sun and comradeship of friends. She said the differences just between states are often like those between European countries. Even America's ethnic diversity reminds her of how cultures change nation to nation.

The Hammarskjolds have been stateside since 1979 and have earned status as American citizens. They take their civic duties seriously. As State Sen. Toni Boucher made her way through the crowd with Bill Meyer to discuss legislation, the Hammarskjolds were eager to give their opinions.

In particular, Ulf felt the local police should collect the majority of funds from speeding tickets. The couple agreed one of the biggest issues in Westport was speeding. Gerd argued that Staples High School students caught speeding should lose their parking privileges.

Of course they weren't at Compo Beach to discuss politics. The real attraction was something quintessentially American: watching things explode in vivid colors and loud sharp audible cracks in the sky. "Oh I love it, I hope we can have this every year," said Gerd. They have attended the fireworks regularly since 1980.

Their own children were educated at Staples, and Gerd thinks the school did a fairly good job of instilling American history and values into them. She also thinks that most people understand what Independence Day is about.

Before returning to her group on the beach, Gerd admitted the Fourth of July isn't really the holiday she celebrates her citizenship on. She saves that bit of thanks for a Thursday in late November.

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