Residents salute the flag at the Independence Day event in Jamesport Monday. Photo: Denise Civiletti

The Greater Jamesport Civic Association celebrated the 246th birthday of the United States of America with Independence Day ceremonies held on the lawn of the George Young Community Center in Jamesport.

More than 50 people attended the ceremonies, an annual event initiated by the civic association in 2019 and organized by Independence Day Committee Chairman and retired U.S.Marine Corps Col. John Newman.

The Jamesport Meeting House Chorus, under the direction of George Moravek, performed the National Anthem, as well as a medley of patriotic songs and led a sing-along of God Bless America.

Among the dignitaries in attendance were Assembly Member Jodi Giglio, Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, Councilman Frank Beyrodt and Town Historian Georgette Case.

“America was built on the ideas of democracy and equality for all and continues to be a beacon to the rest of the world,” Giglio told the audience. “As of late, there has been a lot of divisiveness and we cannot move forward without unity,” she said. “We must remain united in patriotism today and every day.”

Aguiar spoke of the bravery of the founding fathers in declaring independence from England.

“The act of signing of the landmark document was considered treason and punishable by death,” Aguiar said.

“The Fourth of July is symbolic of having the opportunity to celebrate unity and the birth of our independence. Freedom is not given, it is won,” she said. “Reflecting on Abraham Lincoln, government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from earth.”

The town historian spoke of the importance of remembering the story of American independence and of local men who fought for America’s freedom.

“We are gathered here today to remind ourselves of the original story of the beginning of our beloved country,” Case said.

“[T]he American revolution was won by those who laid down their everyday tools and fought in every way possible — with muskets, pitchforks and spying,” she said.

Noting that the patriots of the Revolutionary War are buried in cemeteries throughout Riverhead, Case read aloud the names of the patriots interred in Jamesport Cemetery, including Riverhead Town’s second supervisor, David Conklin. She urged residents to visit the graves of Revolutionary War patriots, to place a flag or flower on them, to show that their bravery is still remembered.

“To show we haven’t forgotten, you can’t think of the Declaration of Independence signed in 1776 without pledging ourselves to hold fast what is ours for the strength and fortitude previous generations have shown,” Case said.

Case quoted a postcard she keeps on her desk that reads, “Nor shall this story be forgot.”

She pointed out that the 250th anniversary of American independence is coming up in four short years. “America 250” celebrations are already being planned across the country, she said.

“We must pass the meaning of the Declaration of Independence on to future generations so they know the heritage and the magnificence of this country we call the United States of America,” Case said. “There is nothing else like it on earth. That it why America 250 is important,” she said.

“Our story shall not be forgot.”

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Joe Newman, a combat veteran, gave brief remarks about the meaning of military service and his pride in the fact that “Old Glory is standing tall and flying free across the world,” a symbol of freedom and a beacon of hope.

“Everybody dies, but not everybody has the opportunity to truly live,” he said. “America — home of the free because of the brave.”

The Riverhead Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2476 provided the color guard for yesterday’s ceremonies — Post Commander Thomas Najdzion, and members Cliff Berry and Kevin Carrick.

Pastor Rick Saladon of Living Water Full Gospel Church in Aquebogue offered the invocation and closing prayer.

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Denise Civiletti

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.