“Those who are unaware of history are destined to repeat it.”
May 29, 2017, State 1: Pennsylvania:
We departed the Bensalem, PA. Walmart around 10:00 am, and called ahead to Independence Hall to inquire about tickets. They stated they have sold out for the past two days, and expected to sell out again today. They would not take same day reservations, so we immediately departed to Philadelphia to secure our tickets. While living in a high top van does have many advantages like the ability to stand up vertically, high top vans have some significant disadvantages as well. We always have to be mindful of the height of approaching underpasses, and always on the lookout for low tree branches. Another disadvantage is our van is too tall to fit in a parking garage, but we finally found the only open parking lot in Philadelphia. Apparently, we can see where the Declaration of Independence was signed free of charge, but the parking comes with a “bargain price” of a $25.00 for 6 hours. Note to self, next time park outside of the city and take mass transit in.
The city of Philadelphia was our nation’s capital from 1790 until 1800, and was where the first 2 presidents of the US George Washington and John Adams served. We visited so many local historic sites. Old Town hall was where the first US Supreme Court was held. We also visited Congress Hall where the first US Congress met, and was also the site of the inauguration of John Adams our 2nd President. The Essential Document Room, displayed one of the original printed copies of the Declaration of Independence. Two hundred copies were printed back in 1792, and today only 12 are known to be in existence. Independence Hall was the exact location where the Declaration of Independence was signed. The original building still stands at 281 years old and has been restored to its original colonial splendor. All of the furniture was period appropriate, but not original to the hall with one exception. They had the exact chair that George Washington himself sat in when he signed the Declaration in 1792. Absolutely Amazing!
Admission to the Liberty Bell was also free, the lines were long, and a sense patriotism was running high. As we stood in long windy line, and passed through security check points to see that time honored American relic, I heard at least a half a dozen different languages spoken. I looked around and saw I was surrounded by Caucasians, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Englishmen, Indians, and Arabs. There were men, women, children and elderly from all walks of life and all socio-economic statuses. I realized that this moment in time accurately represented a snap shot of what America looks like today, and reinforced the fact that that our countries greatest strength is our diversity. Freedom is not merely a desire of Americans, but is a desire of all of humanity. I felt proud to have shared in such a moment, and I felt proud to be an American!
The Liberty Bell has long served as a symbol of freedom since the dawn of our democracy. The bell survived and inspired Americans during every major armed conflict in our nation’s history. A little known fact about the Liberty Bell is that it resides just a stones throw from the ruins of the president’s house where George Washington once lived, and he owned black slaves there as well. Some of these slaves slept in a room that was located less than 5 feet from the Liberty Bell! Civil rights champions such as the slavery abolitionist, Fredrick Douglas, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., and our 1st African American President, Barack Obama have visited the Liberty Bell. Some may say the origins of the Liberty Bell represent racial hypocrisy, but I believe the Liberty Bell is America’s greatest witness to the evolution of equality in our country.
On our way out of town, we just happened upon a Wegman’s Supermarket. To call Wegman's a supermarket is an understatement and an insult! Wegman's can be best described as an experience and a destination! My father was a supermarket store manager for many years. As a young boy, I remember him saying that Wegman's is the supermarket to which all others try to compare. Regretfully, my father never did take me to Wegman's, and has since passed away. Going to a Wegman's was a bit of a boyhood dream fulfilled! I do want not ruin the surprise for you, but if you happen come across it one day in your own journey take a few moments to stop and check it out. You won’t regret it! We ended our day by driving over a very cool hydroelectric dam enroute to a Hanover, PA Walmart where we had a must needed restful night’s sleep.