DETROIT (AP) — Communities across Michigan are holding Fourth of July weekend parades and festivities, including a Detroit enclave that is getting help from the Discovery Channel.
The television network will visit F on Saturday after local firefighter John Dropchuk submitted the winning essay to its "Red, White and You" competition. Dropchuk said his financially struggling city was "a perfect example of the melting pot that is the United States," with its long history of immigrants and residents who speak at least one of more than 26 languages.
"A strong blue collar work ethic makes up the backbone of our town," he wrote, adding that it is "a community we feel is a true representative of America."
About 22,000 people live in Hamtramck, where waves of immigrants from Bangladesh and Yemen have followed those who arrived the previous century from Poland and Eastern Europe. About a quarter of its residents live in poverty, and it's among five Michigan cities with a state-appointed emergency manager because of budget problems.
The Discovery Channel said it was one of two cities chosen as part of its Destination America program and deserved recognition as a community "that has persevered in a difficult economy." Saturday's events at Keyworth Stadium will include live music, carnival games and a petting zoo.
"We had over 2,500 entries submitted, but John's stood out for us," Debbie Gottschalk, the show's spokeswoman, told The Associated Press. "John's essay was very moving."
Other Michigan events kicked off Friday under clear skies and temperatures hovering around 70 degrees across much of the state.
In Livingston County, Vietnam war combat medic Richard Dawsey, known as "Skip," was among three grand marshals for an Independence Day parade, the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus reported.
The 68-year-old was drafted at age 19, and spent a year in Vietnam — including being shot in the stomach and getting hit with shrapnel in the leg from a booby trap — starting in 1966.
He earned three Bronze Stars for heroism, two Silver Stars and two Purple Hearts. But he told the newspaper he prefers not to dwell on his honors, saying "that's not why you do that."
"To tell you the truth, I never thought I was going to get back," he said. "As the medic, you're like the mother hen. You just want to make sure everybody else is all right. If something happens, you have to work on them."
One of the hardest moments he recalled was when a wounded friend, John S. Bago of Cleveland, died under his care.
"He kind of looked out for me," Dawsey said. "I was working on him, and he got shot again."
Port Huron's Blue Water SandFest also took place Friday and included sand sculptures at Fort Gratiot Light Station County Park. And about 3,000 runners signed up for the 39th annual Volkslaufe Friday in Frankenmuth.
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