News Article

Foundation for the National Archives Joins Archives’ July 4th Celebration, Welcoming Thousands to See Original Declaration of Independence

July 4, 2013

John Hancock Financial, Dykema Sponsor Patriotic Program

The Foundation for the National Archives joined its partners at the National Archives to present an exciting day of July 4th activities, welcoming thousands of visitors to the home of the original Declaration of Independence.

The annual Independence Day festivities, which included patriotic music, a dramatic reading of the Declaration from the National Archives steps, and free family activities, were made possible in part by the generous support of lead sponsor John Hancock Financial as well as the national law firm Dykema.

“Leadership from our dedicated corporate donors – like John Hancock Financial and Dykema – helps the Foundation to reach a worldwide audience on a special day like today,” said Foundation Executive Director Patrick Madden. “Their support allows us to educate the public about the importance of these treasured historical records and the role of the National Archives in our democracy.”

John Hancock Financial has supported the event for the past nine years and Dykema has provided support for three years.

“John Hancock Financial is proud to support the National Archives and its Independence Day celebration,” said Tom Samoluk, vice president for external affairs at John Hancock Financial. “The Archives and its Foundation do a great job of educating the public about the value of preserving billions of important records, including the original Declaration of Independence, for future generations to appreciate. We are pleased to be a part of that effort.”

The National Archives’ Independence Day celebration is a favorite starting point for thousands of visitors to the National Mall on July 4th each year. Visitors used a quill pen to sign a facsimile of the Declaration of Independence. Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero welcomed the crowd from the steps of the historic National Archives Building, and C-SPAN News Broadcaster Steve Scully returned to serve as emcee of the patriotic program for the second year.

Historical re-enactors portraying John and Abigail Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Gen. George Washington read the Declaration of Independence, with the crowd voicing outrage by booing as the grievances against King George III were read, and cheering as the Declaration concluded. A re-enactor portraying Private Ned Hector, an African American soldier in the Revolutionary War, then read the names of each of the signers as the crowd shouted “Huzzah!”

Attendees were entertained by the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry “The Old Guard” Continental Color Guard and Fife and Drum Corps, and the National Anthem was led by the United States Air Force Band. Soloist Dana J. Nearing sang “America the Beautiful.” The National Independence Day Parade on Constitution Avenue along the National Mall began shortly afterward.

The outdoor program on the steps of the National Archives also was shown on the screen of the William G. McGowan Theater inside the building and is available online via UStream.

The public program followed the Foundation’s annual Promise of America breakfast and a private program and tours in the Archives’ Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, the “Public Vaults” exhibition, and the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery, currently showing “Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project.” Guests also enjoyed family activities in the Boeing Learning Center, including the opportunity to make a Colonial cockade or to have their photographs taken in Colonial period clothing.

Several members of Congress, the US Secretary of Commerce, representatives from the diplomatic corps, Foundation board members, representatives from John Hancock Financial and Dykema, returning soldiers in the Wounded Warrior Project, and a number of distinguished Washingtonians participated in the festivities.