Oldest 4th of July Celebration
Picture it, Bristol, Rhode Island 1785, a time of great hope and excitement as a new nation is born. Freedom! The right to own your own land, bear arms for your own protection, worship your own God, speak your mind and let others do the same. America. Free at last. With streets bustling, new homes, businesses and churches rising as one of the earliest patriotic towns grew and prospered.
Bristol is at the center of it all, with its strong spiritual and patriotic fervor, led by the new minister of the First Congregational Church. What a guy! This young, ambitious Revolutionary War veteran, and Harvard graduate, led his fine city and congregation to patriotic pride and celebration. Little did he know that 234 years later, we would still honor his memory and follow his passion from his modest Patriotic Exercises of the early 1800’s, to the splendor of patriotic celebration all throughout America today. He led us to celebrate the greatest birthday party the world is invited to take part in. His example inspires us to this day, to celebrate our freedom, remember those who set us free and honor those who continue to volunteer to secure our freedom and the freedom of other nations when they call on us to help. As the mother of a combat veteran of the current conflict and the sister of a disabled Vietnam veteran, my heart beats true for the red, white and blue, and I want to honor Reverend Wight’s mother today for raising such a fine son at a time of complete uncertainty and great fear.
The National Foundation of Patriotism is grateful for the work and legacy of Reverend Henry Wight, as he served over 40 years at the First Congregational Church. We are proud to tell his story and honor him in every Independence Day celebration we engage in.
And if you are lucky enough to spend your July 4th weekend in Bristol Rhode Island, be sure to wander over to Independence Park and find his name on the Revolutionary War Monument. Monuments are a witness to our history and we should honor and preserve them for all future generations.