Under a sunny Philadelphia sky, members of the Descendents of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence assembled July 3, 2013 at the Omni Hotel to convene the 106th Annual Congress. A heavily attended board meeting was presided over by President-General John Glynn, descendant of Richard Stockton. Immediately following the board meeting, members and families were able to sample an array of Philadelphia’s famous foods at the evening buffet and enjoy time to socialize.
The Independence Day festivities began early for our Junior members. Led by Donald Ward, descendant of John Morton, the young members went to the Liberty Bell Pavilion to practice for the 2 p.m. bell-tapping ceremony. The practice allows the children an opportunity to meet one another and to view the Liberty Bell.
Following the practice, the group returned to the Omni for a delicious Celebration Breakfast buffet. The children were introduced to the members and were presented with the Tappers Pin, exclusive to those who have been Bell Tappers, by John Glynn and Donald Ward. Also invited to the brunch were two young boys, Rigel and Matthew Dumagco, who had recently become U.S. citizens.
At 1:30, the children, family members and guests assembled at the Liberty Bell Pavilion. Inspiring remarks were delivered by the president of The Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution and by Mayor Nutter, focusing on the significance of the event, the cause for Liberty, and the role that the Signers of the Declaration had in the founding of our nation. At 2 p.m., the bell in Independence Hall began to toll and the ceremonial tapping of the Liberty Bell began, with 13 times taps to represent the 13 original colonies. The children were poised and dignified and a credit to their ancestors. One of this year’s Tappers was Thomas McNamara, one of our most active Junior members and a descendant of Thomas Heyward Jr.
In the early evening, 95 members and guests gathered in The Long Room of Independence Hall for the annual meeting. In addition to the business of the Society, newly elected President-General Lawrence M. Croft, descendant of William Hooper, rendered an impassioned reading of the Declaration of Independence. One could easily imagine the tone of that room so long ago.
Following the meeting, the group gathered for dinner. Our guest speaker, Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary of Cultural and External Affairs for Scotland, compared and contrasted her country’s recent efforts toward independence to that of our nation.
As our evening came to a close, we reflected on the significance of the day and our shared respect for the men who risked their Lives, their Fortunes and their Sacred Honor in the cause for Liberty.
Donald C. Ward Sr. and Eileen Ward