For the past few years, every July 4th Tom Noel and I lead the reading, or better, indeed a proclaiming of Jefferson's Declaration of Independence at Denver's Historic 4 Mile Park. Every year we pass out about 250 copies of the document to those who want to help us read the declaration aloud. Every year, I lead the crowd in a cheer: "Down with King George. No royal titles here." This year's crowd responded very enthusiastically between the various grievances penned against King George.
Congresswoman Diana DeGette and Liberty Day generously gave us the copies of the Declaration. The Constitution is included in the small pocket sized booklets. I keep my copy in my suit coat inside pocket right over my heart. Senator Robert Byrd did the same and I bet he had a copy in his coffin as he was buried last week. I think of the booklet as 'my contract with America,' not some partisan scheme thought up in a smoke-filled back room in a think tank in Washington, D. C.
This year a Lincoln lookalike recited the Gettysburg Address while the Denver Municipal Band played the Battle Hymn of the Republic. It was inspiring. Some said it sent chills up their spines. The people stood as Lincoln recited his lines.
Thomas Jefferson, played expertly by Jack Van Ens, started the reading and he gave away copies of his book, "How Jefferson Made the Best of Bad Messes." We could use a Jefferson now to clean up our economic mess.
Tom and I always try to engage the children in the reading and this year we assigned sections to those interested. Mandy and Ilona, too shy to read alone, decided they wanted to read together. They recounted how King George made his judges bend to his will alone. The crowd cheered these two young patriots as they read before the crowd of several hundred. Their young voices, a gathering and swelling chorus, fired the crowd's indignation as the king, unfit to be a world leader. Lots of other boys and girls joined in on the public reading - Brave patriots all.
John Stewart, Denver lawyer and historian, joined in on the reading. He was joined by Judge Larry Bohning who vigorously read Jefferson's lines with meaning. The crowd cheered, "Down with King George."
At the end of the reading finished by Jefferson, Tom Noel asked the crowd that if they agreed with the Declaration to raise their hands. The enormous crowd all raised their hands in affirmation of Jefferson's call for independence. He asked if any disagreed. Two younger folks meekly said they were from England and felt they had to defend the royal family. We cheered them too, but reminding them our Constitution allows for Congress to grant no royal titles.
I closed with the famous line of Ben Franklin who when asked what kind of government did we now have after the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia replied: "A Republic, if you can keep it."
I hope everyone will read the Declaration again this year. And I hope you will contemplate the historic principles which are contained therein. The Declaration ties directly into our Bill of Rights. And let's hope we keep our Republic. Down with King George, and Up with our Republic.