It was just before noon on Independence Day when a small group of men and women began assembling downtown on the north side of the courthouse. Some were veterans of previous wars; others came to offer support. Those in attendance unfolded their lawn chairs and found a shady spot under the trees, or took an open seat at one of the picnic tables on the lawn.
On the 4th of July, they came to listen to the Declaration of Independence, read aloud from the steps of the courthouse by resident Bryce Hope. Although notification of the event was not widespread except for a social media post, many members of the community learned by word of mouth. Others showed up out of curiosity.
Approaching the courthouse steps at noon, Hope walked up to the landing, turned to face the crowd, opened his hardback and began to read the Declaration of Independence. In his hands was the book “The Constitution of the United States of America and Selected Writings of the Founding Fathers”.
While reading this classic work, which traces the founding of America from the birth of our nation in the 1760s to the creation of a more perfect union in the early 1800s, on the courthouse steps he was flanked by volunteers who held state flags or flags that held significance during the war for independence era.
As the final words were voiced, having received special permission from community leaders to do so, the bell on the northeast side of the courthouse grounds rang, with two volunteers pulling the ropes, to signify the 13 original colonies of the United States of America.
After the reading, Hope took time to reflect on the beginnings of his Independence Day tradition.
“As far as I can recollect this is the sixth year I have read the Declaration,” Hope explained. “It all started as I sat at home one 4th of July.
“I began thinking about what this day actually meant and as citizens how we should respect the sacrifices made by the founding fathers and their families for our country. So I grabbed my book, headed to the east stairs of the courthouse and began to read aloud.”
Since the first reading in 2014, Hope is no longer alone in showing his respect for the sacrifices of the founding fathers. He has created a following of people who feel the same.