On July 3 we celebrated Anniversary 265 of the Battle of Fort Necessity. Although July 3 was a regularly scheduled day off for Tom and me, every available staff member worked that day. Tom was out in the meadow doing Living History, and I was in the Visitors Center welcoming guests.
We didn’t have a huge crowd for the anniversary. Although parks plan special events for anniversary dates, most people don’t plan visits to the parks around these dates. That week was a big one for park visitation, because of the long July 4th weekend, but we had more people on Saturday than for the anniversary.
Anniversary 265 isn’t a particularly historic or memorable date. But we did have several special events to mark the anniversary. First, we had a naturalization ceremony in the theater. 22 people from 13 different countries became American citizens on July 3. Tom thought Fort Necessity was an odd place to have the ceremony, but I think having it in a place where George Washington was a commanding officer was pretty cool. It was fun to meet the people and their friends coming for the ceremony. Most have been living in the United States for some time. About half of them married United States citizens.
Two particular stories. One man from Ireland has lived in the US, married to an American citizen for 40 years. He finally decided to become a citizen when his granddaughter asked him why he hadn’t yet. She was concerned he was planning to go back to Ireland. Another man from Benin has lived in the US for 17 years. He decided to come to the US when he was 7 and saw a rerun of the Brady Bunch on television. He fell in love with Cindy and decided then he was going to come to the US and meet her. First he came for college, then he got a job, got married, and had two children. After 17 years in the US he decided to become a citizen of the country he loves so much.
The people becoming citizens really inspired me. They love and appreciate the opportunities in this country. Sometimes I only see the problems and how far we still have to go. So it was good for me to be reminded that there are many good things about the United States.
The naturalization ceremony wasn’t the only part of the Anniversary 265 celebration. We had five volunteers out in the meadow all day. Several of them portrayed British and American soldiers. One was a Native American and one was a French soldier. The British and American soldiers shot off muskets and fired the tiny swivel gun. The swivel gun looks like a toy canon but it gives off an impressive boom when it fires.
The final event of Anniversary 265 was a keynote speech in the evening by David Preston, author of “Braddock’s Defeat.” After his speech a panel of four answered questions from the audience. Also on the panel were Erica Nuckles, the director of History and Collections at Fort Ligonier, Brady Crytzer, author of several books on Pennsylvania Battlefields, and Brain Reedy, the site manager here at Fort Necessity. About 60 people attended the lecture and asked lots of questions.
Anniversary 265 was a fun day with lots of cool things happening. Tom and I were glad to be a part of it.