Celebrating patriotism

Published 2:19 pm Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Patriot Day Celebration took place on a beautiful, though windy Saturday afternoon in Cumberland County, drawing a crowd to witness a brief program, eat good food and enjoy fun activities at the Cumberland Courthouse.

(To view more photos from the Patriot Day Celebration, click here.)

Barbara Gamage, who helped organize the Patriot Day Committee and was a member of it too, noted there were a couple of other key events also taking place Saturday, but she was still pleased with the attendance.

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“With the three big things going on in the county, I think we did pretty well,” she said.

As part of the program, a band from Cumberland County Public Schools performed a medley of patriotic songs.

Cumberland County High School Principal Dr. Jeff Scales led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance and then sang the national anthem.

A brief skit highlighted Cumberland County’s important role in the declaration of independence from Great Britain. The drama starred Carter Henry Harrison, played by Bruce Speas, who was part of Cumberland County’s 1776 Committee of Safety.

“He was really the spokesman for the Committee of Safety when they made their proclamation to be free from Great Britain,” Gamage said. “So I think he was a very important person since they chose him to make that proclamation and later go on to the Congress.”

The skit also featured the Rev. Barry Vassar, John Butler and Bobby Heath as actors, Beverly Lucas Hill as narrator and Victoria Kinney as director of an elementary school chorus.

Lauraetta Jones-Yates followed the skit by singing “The Cumberland Song” and a medley of the songs representing each branch of the U.S. military.

Kinney sang “God Bless the U.S.A.,” and then she and Jones-Yates invited everyone to sing along as they sang “God Bless America.”

In the afternoon, the band Deep Blue Express performed, as food, yard games and a bounce house continued to be available. Those in attendance were also invited to come inside the nearby Cumberland County Historical Society Museum to learn more about the county’s history.

Gamage said she heard feedback while at the event.

“Two or three people came up and told me they really enjoyed the little skit that we put on because we’d never done that kind of thing before,” she said. “We just usually had Bruce (Speas) read the proclamation and not do anything along with it. … Another person told me that the band was really good, (that) we ought to book them for next year.”

Thinking of next year, Gamage communicated her hopes that organizers will move the event to the Saturday closest to April 22, the date Harrison made the proclamation. She said this had always been the goal in the past.

“I think that’ll make a big difference probably, and maybe we can try to ask the different groups not to have something the same day we do, because it’s a historical thing for the county, and everybody in the county ought to be here,” she said.