We here in Philadelphia can get pretty darn smug about the Fourth of July.
We let you all celebrate it, as you should, but…it’s ours. At least once a week I drive by Independence Hall, the “Ground Zero” of the holiday itself. I have the privilege and pleasure of having some friends in the acting community here and I can say unequivocally that I know George Washington, Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross personally. Nice folks all although Ben can get cranky after a few drinks. Actually they are dedicated artists who take their jobs very seriously of portraying iconic figures as real human beings. You cannot stump them on any trivia regarding the American Revolution and they are world class experts on their specific characters. Often they deal with visitors who try to recast their character into being a champion for this or that particular current political belief system and, I’ve seen them do it first hand, gently but firmly let them know they are sadly mistaken. It’s mind-boggling to comprehend the originality and courage and sheer hutzpah of these historic figures, to know all of the forces affecting them and what forced their hand to make the decisions they made without immersing yourself back in time.
One of my favorite July 4th rituals takes place a few days later on the 8th. That is the day the Declaration was first read to the American people by Colonel John Nixon (it was only signed on the 4th). At the very spot behind Independence Hall on July 8th, at the very time it was read, noon, a sparsely attended but enthusiastic crowd, all encouraged to shout ‘down with the King’ sees a stirring recreation of that event that gives goosebumps to anyone in attendance. The bell tower atop Independence Hall, then called the State House, chimes 12 times and out comes Colonel Nixon accompanied by four Continental soldiers with his parchment in hand. Goosebumps.
Here’s a link to the document itself. If you get a chance, read it again. You will find something new, I guarantee it. Hate to give away the ending but it says: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Rational people can debate whether we’ve lost that spirit, gained that spirit or have no freaking clue what that was all about but it’s always good to go back to the original text, to go back to “Ground Zero” and see it for yourself.
Does any of this tie into the tower business? No. Let us tie into it when we get back from celebrating what makes us unique as Americans. Happy Fourth!
By: Jim Fryer, Managing Editor Inside Towers