Fourth of July Remarks
Wallace House and Old Dutch Parsonage
Somerville, New Jersey
We gather today on the very ground where General George Washington and his underdog army of citizen-soldiers struggled for freedom 242 years ago. On a hot July afternoon such as this, it is difficult to envision the sufferings and privations they endured in the countryside while their British counterparts enjoyed the relative comforts of New Brunswick and New York City, but standing here I can feel their presence as we reflect on the importance of the day.
The cornerstone of today’s holiday is the Declaration of Independence, that 1337- word document that took Thomas Jefferson 17 days to write. Despite his painstaking effort to get the wording exactly right, the Continental Congress still found it necessary to make 86 changes to the text before adopting it on July 2, 1776. Once distributed throughout the land, Jefferson’s words galvanized the colonists in a unified effort that led to the creation of the United States of America 7 years later.
As our Founding Fathers shaped and reshaped the Declaration so many years ago, it remains for us today to fine-tune our democracy to meet the needs of a changing society. While the underlying principles of freedom remain the same, economic, social, and political forces continue to shape our country every day. We must remember that the Declaration of Independence is more than just fading parchment in a museum display case. It is a living expression of our hopes and dreams as a unified people, and a roadmap to guide us forward as we work together as a community, as a nation, and as a world. Thank you.
Mayor Dennis Sullivan
July 4, 2020