JULY 4TH CEL­E­BRA­TION HON­ORS HIS­TORY, COM­MU­NITY

The Day - Sound & Country - - FRONT PAGE - By FAYE TRAF­FORD

If ever words had the power to en­no­ble their hearer by the uni­ver­sal­ity of their beauty and truth, the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence of the Amer­i­can colonies from the Bri­tish crown in 1776, stands out.

Ev­ery year, the morn­ing of July 4, folks gather in Ston­ing­ton Bor­ough to honor the found­ing of our coun­try and hear the Dec­la­ra­tion read aloud in full, by fel­low neigh­bors, dig­ni­taries and stu­dents.

It is prob­a­bly one of the sweet­est scenes in New Eng­land life around.

This is what hap­pens: A pa­rade gathers in­Wadawanuck Square at 9:45 a.m. and pro­ceeds downWater Street, with fife and drum and the Amer­i­can flag dis­played with patriotic rev­er­ence. But here’s the kicker: The pa­rade is open to all.

“Well, there are var­i­ous floats, but we never re­ally know who’s go­ing to show up,” says El­iz­a­bethWood, the Ston­ing­ton His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety’s di­rec­tor of de­vel­op­ment. “Ev­ery­one is in­vited. Last year a man who lives in the cove got his don­key all decked out and brought it; we had a ‘bur­row in the bor­ough,’ so to speak,” she laughs.

She’s not ex­ag­ger­at­ing. Chil­dren march beam­ing, hold­ing flags and pin­wheels aloft, and get­ting dis­tracted here and there as they scour the road for the candy tossed from firetrucks. Rib­bons fly from bi­cy­cle han­dle­bars and dogs shake at the red and blue ban­danas tied around their necks. Ev­ery­one waves. Peo­ple wave harder when they see peo­ple they know.

Also par­tic­i­pat­ing this year are the Na­tional So­journ­ers, who will carry the replica of Ston­ing­ton’s fa­mous Battle Flag.

Af­ter the pa­rade, ev­ery­one saun­ters over to the green. Kids climb the huge wil­low out­side the Ston­ing­ton Free Li­brary and neigh­bors greet one an­other as they wait for the read­ing of the Dec­la­ra­tion to be­gin. Copies of the doc­u­ment are passed around so that ev­ery­one can fol­low along. One af­ter an­other, peo­ple take the mi­cro­phone, and the words spill over the podium, the crowd, and the land that our fore­fa­thers se­cured with their loy­alty and lives:

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