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Celebrating our Independence!

By Staff | Jul 7, 2014

Today marks the day that Americans gather to celebrate Independence Day, with parades, family gatherings, fireworks and other types of celebrations. A federal holiday, the day sees most offices and many retail businesses closed so that employees can have a day of rest and celebration.

Shepherdstown will join in the spirit of the day with a 4th of July parade through downtown beginning at 11 a.m. It will begin at Church Street and end at Princess Street.

A picnic will be held right afterward, from 12 noon to 3 p.m., in the pavilion at Morgan’s Grove Park on Kearneysville Pike (Route 480) just southwest of town. Everyone is welcome at both events and admission will be free.

The parade and picnic, organized annually by the Rotary Club of Shepherdstown are annual events that allow the townfolk to gather together in celebration of the nation’s independence.

Fireworks will not be on display in the town July 4; however Jefferson County’s Independence Day event will take place on Saturday, July 5 at Sam Michael’s Park. Gates open at 2 p.m. Saturday for a fun day in the park with many business and food vendors. The Arts Council (formerly AHA) will be on hand with an Art in the Park event and pony rides will begin at approximately 5 p.m.

Live music on the stage starts at 5 p.m. as well with 11-year-old Emma Holz, from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania., singing the National Anthem. She will also entertain with some additional numbers.. She grew up listening to her Dad play guitar and has always shared his love for music. It wasn’t long before she was asking him to play the songs she knew so that she could sing along. She joined the Waynesboro Theater Troup at age 5 and discovered how much she enjoyed performing. At just 9 years old Emma sang at her first open mic night at the Frederick Coffee Company with her Dad by her side. She loves to share her voice and her love of music

Also on the stage that evening will be The Young Snades, A band that consists of two members, Vocalist/guitar player Andrew Mcguigan and multi-instrumentalist Anthony Stoika. They started playing together in 2012 and play a variety of covers and folk base music.”

Joe Ham, a regular with us for this event, returns this year. Joe writes his own songs reflecting on life in Jefferson County. Making people laugh is his motivation although he does offer a serious side. He describes his music as bluesy bluegrass with a shot of country and a twist of folk.

Also on stage is the Celebration Band, a reunion of band members including Jefferson County Clerk Jennifer Maghan. The band played at the county event several years ago before disbanding. They will play a reunion concert Saturday night.

The event at Sam Michael’s Park is free and open to the public; however, donations will be accepted at the gates to help fund the event.

That independence from Great Britain came during the American Revolution with the legal separation of the 13 colonies from Great Britain. That separation actually occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence.

The actual document, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author, was approved on July 4. 1776, making that the day the nation has traditionally celebrated.

On July 1, 1776, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail: “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Off by two days, he was accurate in the prediction of future commemmoration.

It is interesting to note that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both signers of the Declaration of Independence and presidents of the United States, died on July 4, 1826 – exactly 50 years after the adoption of the declaration.

Many other milestones have occurred on this date, whether intentionally or not. As noted on today’s front page of The Chronicle, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point was opened on that date in 1802. In 1817, construction began on the Erie Canal, to connect Lake Erie and the Hudson River while in 1848, the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid on July 4.

In 1934, George Washington’s face on Mount Rushmore was dedicated while in 1957, the U.S. Postal Service issued the 4 cent flag stamp. In 1960, July 4 saw the debut of the 50-star U.S. flag after Hawaii was named to statehood. In 2004, the cornerstone of Freedom Tower was laid in New York City at the former World Trade Center site.