By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Security was tight but the mood was light today in the place where our nation was born 237 years ago.
“We own the 4th of July, here in Philadelphia,” noted Mayor Nutter, pointing out that today’s ceremonies in front of Independence Hall also recognized the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of start of the modern civil rights movement in Birmingham, Ala.
The first big event in a long list of happenings today was the ringing of bells in the Independence Hall bell tower.
Then, a high school marching band revved up the folks who were sitting on folding chairs or on the lawn of Independence Mall, followed by the national anthem sung by 17-year-old Cody Wise of South Philadelphia.
“I signed a record deal through the Black Eyed Peas,” he tells KYW Newsradio. “Basically, I’m working on my first record.”
The backdrop of the stage in front of Independence Hall included a large depiction of the Declaration of Independence.
Birmingham, Ala. mayor William Bell was one of the keynote speakers. He read a portion of the Declaration:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
KYW’s Molly Daly reports that Philadelphia’s Independence Day parade stepped off from 5th and Chestnut Streets, in the shadow of Independence Hall. The colorful celebration was as diverse as the crowd that turned out to watch it.
It started with members of the military, marching and rolling in vehicles, including a group of US Navy and Marine veterans riding in a PT boat replica (below), driving home the debt owed to the nation’s military in keeping America safe.
Betty Jones, who was visiting from Oklahoma, said the day inspired in her a deep appreciation of the Founding Fathers, and gratitude for the rights enshrined in the Constitution.
“I think freedom of religion is probably my favorite right,” she told KYW Newsradio, “and I think we should respect not only our own but other people’s religion when we expect that right to be there.”
It wasn’t just the city’s history that impressed her.
“You really have a wonderful city here,” she said.