Watertown may not have taken the top spot in Rand McNallys competition for the most patriotic town in America, but it impressed the judges who found the area inspirational.
Gainesville, Texas, ultimately was crowned most patriotic by a panel of officials who organized Rand McNallys Best Road Rally.
After studying presentations from two judges who visited Watertown and five other patriotic places, the panel made its choice Friday.
Each of the six finalists in the category arose from a field including 700 towns that received a total of 20,000 votes. Besides Gainesville and Watertown, the most patriotic contestants were Deland, Fla., Mandan, N.D., Enterprise, Ala., and Duluth, Ga.
Watertown was the first stop on the quest to find Americas most patriotic community. The judges Sandra J. McKenna of Palm Harbor, Fla., and Rick Griffin of Jonesboro, Ga., traveled here on the weekend of June 16. They visited shops and restaurants in Watertown, Clayton and Sackets Harbor, and toured Fort Drum.
Having visited with leaders at Fort Drum, Mr. Griffin said he was impressed by the civilian-military relationship locally. I couldnt believe the way the whole town comes together to support the fort, he said. While noticing the flags and overt signs of patriotism, the judge said it was peoples stories that were so impressive in Watertown.
Mrs. McKenna told the Times that her sense of patriotism was deepened by the visit to Drum and conversations with both soldiers and civilians. After the cross-country journey, Mrs. McKenna said the two judges decided that patriotism is in the hearts and souls of the people. Its in their love of other human beings, their willingness to sacrifice in one way or another.
This was a fun and worthy contest. Hats off to Gainesville. Congratulations to Watertown and surrounding communities. Patriotism is an important part of the life in Watertown and Northern New York. Its part of who we are.