Residing in—and now living just outside—the city of Philadelphia my entire life has been a great experience. It’s given me and my family an opportunity to explore the many different cultural and historical aspects of our country’s history.
Philadelphia has some of the best 5-star restaurants, nightlife, world-class sporting events, and concerts that I’ve been privileged to attend throughout my childhood and adulthood. But one of the biggest benefits has been having America’s birthplace in my own backyard.
It was then, and still is today, truly remarkable to walk the streets in and around Independence Hall and to visit the Liberty Bell and Congress Hall, the place where liberty was formed and the Declaration of Independence was presented on July 4, 1776.
When I was in grade school I looked forward to our annual class trips—I can’t lie, the day off was great, too! One of our annual outings would always include loading into a bus and heading for a history lesson in Old City. And yes, the obligatory 500-word essay would follow, but I don’t think we complained much.
On my second-grade trip to Independence Hall, I remember my mother giving me $3 so I could pick up a souvenir during my visit. I bought a small replica of the Liberty Bell. Mom quickly took ownership of that bell because I guess I liked hearing it ring more than she did. That same bell sits on my office desk today, not only as a reminder of my mother, but also as a symbol of our great nation and the privileges that we all share—family and freedom.
If you ever get the chance to visit Independence Hall—or if you’ve already been—you will see the place where Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin sat at the tables used to sign one of the greatest and best known passages written in the declaration: one that Abraham Lincoln made famous at the Gettysburg address. It serves as the moral compass for our country:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
On this July 4th, as many of us gather at the beaches, lakes, and backyard barbecues with the stars and stripes and fireworks all around, I’d like for each of us to take time to remember the rich history of our country and hopefully some of the things that you remember growing up that you can share with your family about this great country that we live in.
Happy Independence Day!
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