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A non-traditional Fourth of July celebration

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneAbel Esemene is ready to run from Medford to White City and back carrying an American Flag 4th of July morning.

A traditional Independence Day typically includes some combination of barbecues, fireworks and beer. But Abel Esemene's celebration is anything but traditional.

Sunday, he will be running from Medford to White City and back with an American flag on his back.

“It is easy for people to forget about the pain that (the founders) went through for us to be able to celebrate,” he said.

Esemene, who was born and raised in Nigeria, had always admired the United States and dreamed of living here. When he became a U.S. citizen in 2018 he vowed to do something difficult to honor the holiday ... or he wouldn’t celebrate at all.

He settled on his unique annual endeavor because he enjoys running and the July heat, combined with the distance involved, will make it challenging.

Esemene has followed through on his vow. This will be his fourth year running it and it is something he always looks forward to, in spite of the heat and pain.

“It’s my passion, there is something behind it,” he said. “I do it for myself and for the nation that I love so much.”

He estimated that he will travel about 10.5 miles, but said that he has never calculated the distance because the run is symbolic and not about achieving a certain number.

Esemene feels ready, he plays soccer fairly often and has been running.

He is planning on running tomorrow morning at seven and then spending the rest of the day recovering and at the river with his friends.

“It’s been a blessing living in this land. You have a dream of the land, you’ve thought about this life so much,” Esemene said. “And then living here, it’s mind-blowing.”

Reach Mail Tribune news intern William Seekamp at wseekamp@rosebudmedia.com.