Despite parking lots being closed at Carlsbad beaches, the sand was filled with people on Saturday, enjoying the Independence Day holiday. Many were locals, but there were also a lot of out of town tourists.
“We’re from Yuma, Arizona,” said Dana Hernandez, who was relaxing on the beach with two friends.
“I came from a state that’s locked down, so this is a breath of fresh air to me,” said Sam Jawad, a tourist from Michigan.
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While many people out enjoying the sun were just grateful to be outside, a lot of people were also taking time to reflect on the true meaning of Independence Day.
“Today I decided to ruck for Vanessa Guillen who was sadly found in Ft. Hood,” said Jeffrey Priela, a U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman who runs in a Star Wars Stormtrooper costume to advocate for veterans.
Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen was killed in Fort Hood, TX on the base by a fellow soldier, according to the FBI.
Priela takes great responsibility to be a leader in his community and wants civilians to recognize they also have a responsibility to their country.
“I encourage everybody to step it up a little bit. Start being that personal leader. Start looking out for your fellow citizen, even if it means something as simple as putting on a mask,” said Priela.
“Being in the medical field, if I can run 10 miles in this (Stormtrooper Costume), you can wear masks for a couple of hours,” Priela added.
The day also holds special significance to Jawad. His family left Lebanon to find a better life in the U.S.
“My family is a family of immigrants. My father served in the Marines. I have an older brother who serves in the Air Force, another one who served in the Army, so the 4th of July is near and dear to all our hearts,” said Jawad.
With flags waving in the ocean breeze, the beach if Carlsbad was filled with people, but also with patriotism and peace.