WASHINGTON – Heat and humidity did not deter patriotism Thursday when thousands of people gathered outside the National Archives to listen as a host of officials and celebrities read the Declaration of Independence.
As the audience used programs in the shape of hand fans, Fox 5 News Anchor Allison Seymour reminded the crowd that the National Archives has hosted the ceremony on the Fourth of July for more than 40 years.
Seattle resident Cora Longhurst, 16, traveled across the country with her family to celebrate the holiday. The Declaration of Independence is an important part of her life, Longhurst said.
“[The Declaration] means that I have the opportunity to be raised in a country where I have freedom – freedom of religion, freedom to do all the things that I love and want to do,” Longhurst said.
The event featured the Presentation of Colors by the Continental Color Guard followed by a Fife and Drum Corps performance and remarks from Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero.
“I’m a lucky man. Every day, I get to visit the Declaration and marvel at its very existence,” Ferriero said. “The fact that it has survived for 240 years given its history is truly remarkable.”
Spectators attending the Independence Day celebration expressed mixed feelings about whether the Declaration’s values are being upheld by the government today. The focus of many people across the country is President Donald Trump’s “Salute to America” celebration, which some believe politicizes an otherwise patriotic, nonpartisan holiday defined by fireworks and picnics.
Bobby, 24, who would not give his last name because he works for the government, said the Trump administration is not maintaining the values outlined in the Declaration of Independence.
“Americans generally recognize that people should be equal, but we have an equity problem,” Bobby said. “So, we’ve got to start dealing with the equity issue … in order to ensure that all men … [are] created equal, but they have the chance to live roughly equivalently good lives.”
Michigan resident Dennis Kurc, 68, disagreed that the Declaration’s values are not being upheld. Kurc attended the event as “an avid Trump supporter,” and he considers it important to “revive” the country’s motto, “In God We Trust.”
“I think he’s bringing back kind of what John F. Kennedy said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,’ and I see that in Trump a lot, too,” Kurc said. “I think he’s president not for his own gain, but he represents all the people.”
The event signified the start of the July Fourth activities in the nation’s capital, Seymour said. The National Park Service’s National Independence Day Parade followed.