On July 1, 1998, just over 20 years to the day, The Independent celebrated the Fourth of July by asking Captain George Sterling, Jr. of the U. S. Army Special Forces, a Montauk native, to commemorate the event by writing an inspirational column.
He wrote, “On this special day that commemorates the creation of this great country, we actually reflect on the true meaning of being an American. We are special. There is nothing shameful in being proud of that resounding fact. Remember as a collective whole how we continually pulled together in times of crises.”
“Ask yourself what is preventing that now? Why does it seem now only the ‘militant’ fringe groups (both left and right) have organized and are imposing their agenda on the whole? Has the constant negativity surrounding us and our society, perpetuated by the mass media, captured and molded our thoughts? Our society, and its history, is not without fault but that should never be an excuse for forsaking our duty and responsibility as enlightened patriotic Americans.”
Capt. Sterling encouraged everyone to “take the time on this day to tell your neighbors, co-workers, and especially your children, what we are and what we can become. We are Americans. Our nation is the greatest in history. Never, at any time, should there be a doubt.”
Also in the news, the Millstone Nuclear Power Station in Connecticut was approved to open after two years and more than $2 million in fines for safety concerns. The approval came without emergency evacuation plans being developed for eastern Long Island.
In the wake of the re-opening of Millstone, Fish Unlimited alleged that a recent large fish and reptile kill was the result of the toxic waste being released by Brookhaven Laboratory.
The Independent’s cover story, “Big House: Wave of the Future?” outlined residents’ concerns over open space preservation and illuminated the apprehension over dwindling farmland on the East End. North Haven and Sag Harbor residents in particular expressed worry over the influx of Wall Street money that threatened the historic character of these areas. At immediate issue was Sony Music Entertainment president Thomas Mottola’s plan to build a 233-foot pier off his property that would then extend 145 feet into the Sag Harbor bay.
The annual Independence Day special celebrated the Heroes of the Hamptons naming Elizabeth Bess Haile, Ria Del Bene, Percy Heath, Michael Johnson, Susan Roden, Timothy Rood, Barbara Schwartz, Bob Smith, Bill Smith, Harold Steudte, Richard Wrase, and Dawn Zimmerman as recipients of the honor.