UNION TWP. — To celebrate Independence Day, the National Park Service invites the public to attend an inspirational reading of the Declaration of Independence accompanied with music and traditional patriotic songs. The program will be staged on the porch of the Ironmaster’s House at 2 p.m. on Friday, July 4. Admission to the park and event is free.
“On this Fourth of July, we invite the public to re-visit our founding document — The Declaration of Independence,” commented Superintendent Edie Shean-Hammond.
The Declaration of Independence was officially adopted in Philadelphia at 2 p.m. on July 4, 1776. The reading at Hopewell marks the hour of our nation’s 238th birthday.
The program features Matt Red Samluk, who will perform several patriotic songs. Samluk studied music at Temple University and Kutztown University. He has performed in several productions with the Berks Opera Workshop. Samluk just graduated from the Music Performance Masters Program at Binhamton University and is performing at Tri City Opera Company in featured roles.
Author, playwright and actress Christine Emmert will read from the Declaration as well as other patriotic writings. Emmert wrote “From Out the Fiery Furnace” and “Fragile Freedom”; both plays tour as part of Hopewell’s outreach program.
The Fourth of July Hopewell program is stage managed by Donna Samluk, Matt Samluk’s mother, who regularly stage manages productions at Berks Opera Workshop.
The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Berks County was on July 8, 1776. The document was read publicly in villages throughout the area. Ironmaster and founder of Hopewell Furnace Mark Bird was brother-in-law to two signers of the Declaration: George Ross and James Wilson. Many of the signers lost their lives and fortunes. Shortly after the war, Mark Bird, too, lost his fortune as he was never reimbursed for the sacrifices he made during the American Revolution.
An early iron making plantation, Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site features the foundations of America’s early iron industry from extraction in the 18th century to the enlightened conservation of the 20th century. In addition to the park’s Independence Day program, visitors can participate in moulding demonstrations, shop at the Village Store, watch several educational videos, and listen to the Voices of Hopewell as they wander through the Village. The park offers an 18-mile trail system which links directly to French Creek State Park.
Hopewell Furnace is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day during the summer months of June, July and August. There is no entrance fee. Hopewell Furnace is located five miles south of Birdsboro, off of Route 345.