Many Stress Importance of Declaration of Independence

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

July 4, 2005

For many, the 4th of July is more than just fireworks. It's about stressing the importance of the Declaration of Independence and those who made it possible.

It's a sound to signify America's freedom, Virginia's replica of the Liberty Bell ringing out 13 times at the Charlottesville Fire Department along Ridge Street.

"What's going on here represents the turmoil and the sacrifices that our ancestors made," said ceremony-goer Peggy Laubach.

It's the second year the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence held the Bell Ringing Ceremony commemorating the original states and signers of the Declaration of Independence.

"Fourth of July is more than just going out and having ice cream socials and seeing fireworks and picnics and things like that. They should get out and really investigate their historical past. What makes America the great country that it is today," said DSDI Chairman, R. Bruce W. Laubach.

While the Bell Ringing Ceremony demonstrated the importance of the Declaration of Independence, right around the corner sits one of the first original copies of the document.

Since November, UVa's special collections library is home to one of the foremost Declaration of Independence collections, the Albert H. Small Collection. The centerpiece, a copy of a rare Dunlap Proclamation, the first printing of the document. The permanent exhibit includes about 50 letters, documents, and images.

"It shows [how] the information was promulgated to the public and how the information got to the citizens of the united states, over the last 200 years," said Director of Special Collections Michael Plunkett.

This marks the first 4th of July it's been on display, one of the reasons many headed out today.

"I thought what better time to come and see it," said Charlottesville resident Margaret Bailey.

The collection will rotate items periodically. As for the Bell Ringing Ceremony, the DSDI hopes to eventually include all 13 original states.

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