Living history with Declaration of Independence reading

Updated: Jul. 4, 2019 at 6:34 PM EDT
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CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - Music drew the crowd, but it was the words about to be read on this Fourth of July in Clayton that organizers wanted people to hear.

For the past five years, the Thousand Islands Inn has hosted a public reading of the Declaration of Independence, the document that gave this country its freedom from Great Britain two and a half centuries ago.

Each excerpt was read by volunteers.

"We want people to participate in it, it’s not to be making a speech, I am nobody,” Thousand Islands Inn owner Jamie Weinberg said. “I’m an American like everybody else.

This is important Weinberg. He says one of his goals each year is to get a child to read the section about equality and basic human rights.

"If just one kid could go back to school and say, ‘hey this is what our country is about’ and talk to his friends about it, that’s good with me,” Weinberg said.

James Devalentino read that section this year.

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” he said.

"It’s very powerful — I think that everybody should take an opportunity to sit down and think about what this day is really about,” Mary Schweitzer-Burgmeier, another reader, said. “It's more than hot dogs and hamburgers today, it’s thinking about where we are and where we are going."

"If anybody goes away from this and talks about this with their kids or their grandkids, that's terrific,” Weinberg said. “That's what we are looking for."

Weinberg and others who put this together say they hope more people come out to read the Declaration of Independence together next year.

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