Colonists’ risk, bravery saluted in Declaration of Independence reading

GEORGETOWN – On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed by congressional representatives of the 13 colonies.

Four days later, the first public reading of the document declaring colonial independence from Great Britain occurred in Philadelphia’s Independence Square.

Some 242 years later, it was read on The Circle in Georgetown, Delaware.

Encircled by state flags of the 13 colonies amid a sea of American flags, elected town and county officials tag-teamed in the July 4, 2018 recitation of one of America’s most treasured and important documents. The 9 a.m. program was facilitated by State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn.

Sussex County Sheriff Robert T. Lee shared thoughts and personal wonder as he read the names of the brave colonial representatives who signed the Declaration of Independence.

“All of the names I am going to read here, after they signed this they were persecuted, chased, they lost their possessions … in the name of freedom,” said Sheriff Lee. “And I wonder how many of us would have gone ahead and put our names on this, knowing that we were going to lose our homes, lose our families and our properties and lose our income and go into hiding during this time?”

Joining Sen. Pettyjohn and Sheriff Lee at the podium were State Representatives Ruth Briggs King, Rich Collins and Dave Wilson and Georgetown Mayor Bill West.

The Declaration of Independence occurred during the early stage of the American Revolutionary War, which spanned 1775-1783, lasting about 8 ½ years.

Two attendees accepted Sen. Pettyjohn’s invite to share their thoughts at the podium.

“That document is the most important document to this country, next to the Constitution,” said Mitch Denham, president of Delaware Gun Rights. “Without the risk that these gentlemen took that signed it – the treasonous act that they did at the time – we would have never been able to stand here today in this Circle and salute what they did.”

“They put everything on the line to make sure that the people that surrounded them could live in a free country where they could have freedom of speech, and freedom of religion and freedom from persecution, and have representation … without having to worry about the King of England raining down on them all kinds of horrible things,” Mr. Denham said. “The gentlemen that signed this document, we call them the Founding Fathers, right? They really were the fathers of this nation. They took a chance. They said, ‘This is wrong. We’re going to do what is right.’ So, to me, what that means is we should all do the same thing. We should all honor them by doing the right thing. When we see usurpation, when we see tyranny, when we see something that is happening that is wrong we should have the wherewithal and the guts to stand up and say, ‘No, that’s not how this is going to work.’ Which is why this nation is so great, because it had these men over the generations that have done that.”

Said Georgetown resident Barbara Holston, “I am very proud to live in this town because there is so much love and so much unity here. It is just a wonderful place to be. We are so lucky that we have the freedom that we do have. We have a grandson right now that is in Hawaii, in the Navy. I appreciate all of the Armed Forces that are out there protecting all of us.”

Upcoming events

Sen. Pettyjohn announced that there will be a ceremonial reading of the United States Constitution on Sept. 17. The U.S. Constitution was created in on Sept. 17, 1787.

Also, a special event is in the works for Veterans Day in November.

More details will be forthcoming on these events.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at

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