Making the reading of Declaration possible


Twelve years ago, longtime Payson resident Lew Levenson began the Payson tradition of publicly reading the Declaration of Independence on Independence Day.

Thankfully, the many now required to produce the reading of our country’s birth certificate on its birthday are merely grassroots patriotic folk quite capable of the event.

This July 4th, 150 people sat on grass, on blankets, under shade trees and 80 folding chairs once again provided by the Green Valley set-up crew.

While I emceed the event that proceeded immediately after the memorial ceremony, four speakers covered the annual topics.

The historical context of the DOI.

The actual reading of the DOI.

What does the DOI mean for all?

What the 56 founders endured for signing the DOI.

Peri Cline did an excellent job recounting the turmoil and tyranny of the times. And showed the “enough is enough” determination of our country’s founders.

Natalie Hajdu-Voakes owner of Pine’s Herb Stop read the historic document with a clarity and purpose that incited the listeners with a renewed appreciation for our country’s birth.

Incidentally, Natalie’s mother Leilah Duncan video-streamed the entire event. At one point 260 people were watching the event online. And The Herb Stop’s website had 500 hits on the link they provided of the event by Saturday, two days later.

I condensed my topic to “Everyone is free. Everyone is accountable. Government’s only job is to protect the one and enforce the other.” As in the Pledge of Allegiance, “with liberty and justice for all.”

Finally, Gary Bedsworth reminded us what happened to many of the signers. The price they paid for independence involved themselves, their fortunes and their families. You might say, Gary showed us the receipt of what was paid for what we enjoy.

While folks mingled afterwards with other patriot movement representatives obtaining mission statements and contact information, Payson’s Ukulele Fun group gave of their talents providing pleasant Americana music.

Altogether, the public reading was setup, observed, struck and replaced by park wanderers within less than five hours.

Todd R and Wilbur W, video and audio professionals by trade, voluntarily came from the Phoenix Valley to operate the three cameras and sound system. Local Don Cline donated his camera and expertise as well.

Just American grassroots doing what they believe to be important. No corporation, no political party nor religious organization ran the event. People working together did it. Kind of like another loose-knit group who did something historically important 243 years ago.

Bruce Wales, event coordinator, Payson

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