Independence Day in Perth Amboy

Faithful readers know by this time that on June 2 the lovely and ever-gracious Nicole and I were pronounced man and wife by Judge Maria Del Valle-Koch in the drawing room of the Royal Governor’s Mansion (soon to be formerly known as Proprietary House) in romantically historic Perth Amboy, New Jersey.

In the course of planning the event, I had occasion to chat over the phone with Mayor Wilda Diaz, who invited me to deliver Patrick Henry’s famous “Liberty or Death” speech at the annual Independence Day ceremony at the historic City Hall Circle. Needless to say, I was both deeply flattered and deeply honored.

As Mother nature would have it, July 4, 2012 arrived in the midst of a sweltering, all-too-familiar Garden State heat wave, where the combination of 95° temperature and 70% humidity yields sweaty discomfort for anyone not outside in their undergarments. For those attired in the woolen uniform of a Continental Army officer, the experience can easily be translated into the Tenth Circle of Dante’s Inferno. Suffice it to say that wool does NOT breathe.

The schedule called for Gov. William Franklin (Kurt Epps) and Col. Nathaniel Heard (myself) to lead a small procession of dignitaries from the Royal Governor’s Mansion to City Hall Circle – a distance of several blocks – starting at 1:30 PM. We decided that it was way too hot for that sort of thing and that we’d join the procession from the intersection of High and Gordon Streets – about a block and a half away from the circle.

Unfortunately, due to a snafu in communication, Kurt and I believed we were supposed to join the march at 1:45. Imagine my consternation when, on my way to the intersection, I passed by the procession. A few minutes later, Gov. Franklin appeared and made a bee line for the gathering with me in hot pursuit – and hot doesn’t begin to describe trotting on hot asphalt in a solid wool regimental coat and a black tricorn officer’s hat.

As it turned out, our late arrival made for a grand entrance. The Governor spoke first.

It was his standard speech – both witty and informative – and he presented his side of the story with earnest grace.

For his part, Col. Heard and his adjutant were less than thrilled with Gov. Franklin’s bloviating.

Now it was Col. Heard’s turn. As fate would have it, my printer malfunctioned and the first third of Henry’s speech simply wasn’t there. If I panicked, I certainly kept it hidden and I proceeded to ad lib an introduction to the speech.

I delivered the address with great passion and emotion: it was well received by the small crowd.

Congressman Pallone Cupcake seems unsure of what make of Patrick Henry’s eloquence. I suspect that words like “liberty” and “freedom” are confusing and foreign to the man who brags that he is the author of Obamacare.

Soon it was Cupcake’s turn to speak. For the life of me I can’t recall anything he said. There is something about the foppish mannerisms of this liberal poppinjay that makes my skin crawl.

After Pallone, there was a reading of the Declaration of Independence by various Amboyites.

Finally, it came time to ring the Liberty Bell – a hallowed tradition in one of the last of all 50 states to continuously display one of 50 functioning, full-scale replicas of the Liberty Bell presented by France to the U.S. in the early 1960s. Mayor Diaz ascended the stairs and proceeded to strike the bell thirteen times – once for each of the original states that formed our Union.

 Let freedom ring!

It was as perfect a celebration of the 236th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence as any I have ever seen and Mayor Diaz has every right to be proud of Perth Amboy and its hallowed place in American history.

Afterward, the Governor and I basked in the flashing lights of many cameras.

Even Cupcake managed to get his picture taken with Col. Heard – although it would have been more appropriate for him to have been photographed with Gov. Franklin.

Well-wishers, patriots and fans of liberty also had their pictures taken with the good Colonel:

Afterward, I chatted briefly with Perth Amboy councilman Ken Gonzalez and former Prop House Association board member Tom Ward.

Sadly, the present Executive Board – under the incompetent and arrogant “leadership” of Jeff Huber and his cronies – took no part in the celebration and did nothing to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the construction of the Royal Governor’s mansion. The mansion was closed for the day and Huber went to the spiteful and utterly juvenile extreme of padlocking various rooms within the house – despite the fact that, because the mansion is the property of the state of New Jersey, it is forbidden to do so. A member of the Parks Department had to be summoned to remove the interior padlocks. It was yet another shameful episode in the ongoing saga that will, hopefully, be resolved by the state sometime soon.

But let that not dampen our patriotic spirits.


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2 Responses to Independence Day in Perth Amboy

  1. Kurt Epps says:

    Rumor has it that Governor Franklin was not at all moved by your excellent speech. In fact, when you concluded to a rousing ovation, he was overheard (no pun intended) to remark to a bystander, “Humbug!”

    Just sayin’.