BostonBruins.com - As the nation celebrates its 238th birthday and honors another Fourth of July, fireworks, parades and barbecues are stretching across the country.
You won't be surprised to find one of the Bruins' only Americans, Torey Krug, joining in the festivities.
The native of Livonia, Michigan has become a New Englander and Bostonian since first wearing the Spoked-B in 2012, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Just as he takes pride in the Black and Gold, he's especially grateful for the Red, White and Blue.
The defenseman, who spends his summers training in Connecticut, checked in with BostonBruins.com via phone on the eve of the Fourth.
"Still out East, and loving every second of it," Krug said of his summer so far. He and his wife, Melanie, were heading to Rhode Island to take part in Fourth of July festivities.
Since being around New England, and in Boston, he's sensed the pride the area takes in being rich in American history, with landmarks and the Freedom Trail winding near TD Garden through Boston's North End and Charlestown.
"I spend a lot of time walking around, and you can feel the patriotism inside the people of Boston," said Krug. "I feel like it's just a great city to be a part of, and it represents everything about the United States as a whole, when you talk about freedom, patriotism and pride in general."
"These people take a lot of pride in their city, their sports teams and it's a pretty amazing city to be a part of."
Since joining the Bruins, Krug has taken part in the team's Military Appreciation Night, donating $2,500 worth of tickets for military members and their families to attend a home game on Veterans Day.
This year, Krug and his wife founded Torey's Troops, a charitable organization to help support families of military members overseas.
When I put him on the spot during the conversation, and asked him what it means to him to be American, the D-man naturally didn't hesitate.
"It means everything," he said. "We have this notion that it's the land of the free and we have a lot of people fighting for our freedom overseas, and here, they go to work every single day to make sure that we're able to live comfortably and not have any worries in our homeland."
"To me, it's about those people who sacrifice everything. I know there's a lot of people who have to get up and leave their families and they're not able to celebrate this time with their families, so you've got to celebrate for them. It's definitely very important."
Krug and his wife were headed to Newport and planned to take part in the nearby parade in Bristol, where they would be riding in a 'Zamboni.'
"It will be a fun time, for sure," said Krug, who was hoping the Hurricane Arthur weather would hold off for them (as was the rest of the East Coast!)
"I've never taken part in any parade, for that matter. I'm hoping this is the first of two, one next calendar year," he added, not needing to clarify that he was thinking about bringing another parade back to Boston like the one in 2011.
"I've never been part of a parade. I've been to a couple parades, you know, the standard Fourth of July parades from the little towns I've been in over the years, spending the Fourth of July, just those fun afternoon parades, and fireworks are always the best part as well."
Growing up in Michigan, Krug remembers the Fourth of July best as family time, spent enjoying each others' company and going to a local carnival in Livonia for their grand fireworks show.
"It's just about spending time with family and having a barbecue and doing all of that fun stuff. Just taking the time to hang out together," he said. "It's rare for my family to have everyone on location at once now, especially these last few years."
With lakes nearly everywhere in Michigan, a young Krug and his friends would always go boating and hang out by the water whenever they could.
Nowadays, he's working on perfecting his barbecue skills.
"You know, my experience on the grill has been growing, especially in the summer," he laughed. "Growing up, I didn't have much experience, but over the last year and a half, I've been getting better at it. Especially now, it's the first summer with me and my wife being away, so I'm manning the grill and she's cooking the veggies inside, so it's a fun time."
And no Fourth of July barbecue is complete without a playlist to go along with it.
If you're taking a cue from Krug, you'll load up your music with plenty of country.
"Fourth of July to me, the type of music you play is country music. I'd probably throw a bunch of Jake Owen on there, I know he's got that Beachin' song right now that's pretty popular," he said. "I would imagine that song is going to be played many, many times across the country."
While you're at it, include some more of Krug's favorites like Dierks Bentley, Randy Houser and tunes from his favorite country group, Zac Brown Band.
After some down time for the Fourth, though, just like the rest of the country, it's back to work for Krug.
Along with training, he'll be signing a new contract this summer. As an entry-level free agent, he can only negotiate with the Bruins. General Manager Peter Chiarelli has said that they could sign him to a one-year deal, and give him a deserved raise down the road.
"Back in the gym, and training," Krug said of his summer in general. "It's a part of the job that comes with the territory, and we'd much rather be on the ice surface but a lot of the guys enjoy doing it. It's a fun, competitive time, comparing yourself to other guys around the gym."
"The summer's been good. But it's been longer than normal, that's for sure."
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