Friday, July 1, 2011

Huzzah! Celebrate Independence in Revolutionary Fashion

If you’re as much of a history geek as I am, you’ll want to find suitable activities for Independence Day. Yes, the fireworks and barbecues are required, and in fact, John Adams predicted that the day “should be commemorated with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward, forever more." Among all that, though, there’s time to take a, well, revolutionary spin on the day.

The Ford Mansion site of Morristown National Historical Park will host its annual reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, starting at noon. Far from a solemn event, the reading generally takes on a raucous tone, with reenactors encouraging audience members to shout huzzahs and heckle King George during the airing of grievances. There’s nothing quite like hearing the words of 1776 punctuated with a clearly 21st century “no, he di-in’t!” Everyone has a good time, and in the process, we all get a better view into an event and people we thought we’d already known so well.

If the program runs as it traditionally does, the first hour will include colonial jokes and stories, with the reading of the Declaration starting at 1 p.m. Following the reading, there will likely be a celebratory fusillade from reenactors in the New Jersey Regiment. It’s loud, but it definitely gets you in the mood for fireworks!

Also of note, on the afternoon of July 3, the Wick House at Jockey Hollow will host a colonial soldier just back from the Battles of Connecticut Farms and Springfield. It’s good to see the Park Service taking interest in these long-forgotten battles. No doubt there’s plenty more to learn!

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