The River Hill Community Association will sponsor the 18th annual Independence Day Parade on July 4th beginning at 9 a.m. Since the beginning, a quotation from a letter that John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail in July of 1776 following the vote for Independence by the Continental Congress has served as an inspiration for our community’s parade. “I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival… it ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other…” John and Abigail Adams were prolific writers and their letters captured history.
Each Independence Day we are fortunate to have the opportunity to think about what it means to be an American. The annual River Hill Independence Day Parade is a local display of patriotism that encourages reflection on the ideals and struggles behind our nation’s founding and celebrates our freedom. This year’s parade will highlight the contributions of our nation’s founders and the lasting values that continue to benefit our nation today. We all know that George Washington was, “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countryman.” In his Farewell Address from the Presidency, President Washington counseled the people by stressing the importance of the Union that bonded all Americans together and provided for their freedom and prosperity. He also warned his countrymen not to let regional loyalties overwhelm national attachments. He said, “The name of ‘American’…. must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.”1
While Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and served as a powerful intellect underlying the push for independence, it was John Adams who led debate on the floor of the Continental Congress in favor of independence. Jefferson was the “pen of Independence” and Adams was the “voice of Independence.”
It is also important to recognize the role of women in the founding of our nation. “While the men went off to war or to Congress, the women managed the businesses, raised their children, provided them with political advice, and made it possible for the men to do what they did.” “It’s safe to say that most of the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, fought the Revolution, and formed the government couldn’t have done it without the women. And it was the women who, by insisting that the men come together for civilized conversations in the early Washington dinner parties, helped keep the fragile new country from falling into fatal partisan discord.”2 While the wives of the founders such as Martha Washington, Martha Jefferson, and Abigail Adams easily come to mind, women supported the cause of independence in other ways such as by boycotting British goods and spinning and weaving cloth to help counteract textile shortages. During the Revolutionary War, many women followed the Continental Army serving as cooks, nurses, seamstresses, and cleaners, while some are known to have served as soldiers and spies.
The newly opened Museum of the American Revolution, located in Philadelphia, focuses primarily on the founding of the United States. The museum also offers the thought that as a nation we are in a continual state of revolution, i.e. improvement. In 1864, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was passed which abolished slavery. In 1920, the 19th Amendment was passed, granting women the right to vote. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed. As a country, we continue revolution towards a better society in pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The Association invites and encourages community participation with the parade either as spectators or as registered parade
entries. If your group would like to be part of the fun, sign up to be in the parade! Call 410-531-1749 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
1. Washington’s Farewell Address. Mt Vernon Website. www.mountvernon.org/education/primary-sources-2/article/ washingtons-farewell-address-1796/.org
2. Founding Mothers, Cokie Roberts, 2004.
(This article was written by Barbara Wertman, founder of the River Hill Independence Day Parade.)