Sunday, December 9, 2012

Philadelphia is Where America Started

We travel all over the world and it is a great learning experience but there are many wonderful, exciting places to learn and enjoy in the United States. We love Philadelphia. It is where America started. Really! The Declaration of Independence was written during the Continental Congress held in Independence Hall in Philadelphia. We visited Independence Hall and saw the room where it was written and learned, that just like politicians today, there was a lot of arguments about what they should do.
The Constitution was also written and signed in Philadelphia. We saw the chair that George Washington was sitting in during the meetings and the decoration on the back of the chair had a small painting of a sun. At Independence Hall, as the delegates signed the Constitution, Benjamin Franklin pointed to the president's chair, and said, "I have the course of this session...looked at the sun...without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting; but now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting sun." Franklin felt that the greatness of the new country, America, was on the rise.

Guess what? We signed the Constitution. The US Constitution is celebrating its 225th anniversary. People are invited to sign the Constitution at the National Constitution Center or on line at their web site. The signing room has statues of all the original signers of the Constitution. So many people have signed that there are books and books of signatures. The Center has a lot of great hands-on learning experiences about the Constitution.
Philadelphia has the most historic square mile in the United States. That means that there are so many great places to visit within walking distance. The Liberty Bell is in a building in front of Independence Hall. We made friends with Makayla while we were waiting in line. She was from California and she was all excited about seeing the Liberty Bell because she wanted to tell her class that she had actually touched it. The bronze Liberty Bell weighs about one ton and at the top it says, “Proclaim Liberty” but it wasn’t until the 1800s that it was called “The Liberty Bell.” The people who were working to free slaves used it as a symbol. Today it is a worldwide symbol of freedom.
Who designed the American flag? Many people think it was Betsy Ross. And, maybe it was but there is no written proof. We visited her house where we learned that she designed the five-pointed star that is on the flag. It was easier than making a six-pointed star because she could fold the cloth and cut it in one snip.

There are many things to do in “America’s Most Historic Square Mile.” We saw Liberty 360, a 3-D film highlighting America’s most treasured gift – liberty. While we were waiting for the show we sat and listened to a story. There are “Once Upon a Nation” benches at historic sites with storytellers ready to tell historic stories for free. The Visitor Center has great free videos where we learned that not everyone wanted to create a new country. There was a lot of disagreement. Only about one-third of the people were in favor of breaking away from England.
We loved the National Liberty Center where they had excellent displays about what “freedom” means to people. There is the freedom of religion, freedom from hunger, and freedom of expression. We like the display called “Power of 1” which meant we can all do something to promote freedom including respecting others. We liked the sign that said, “Freedom is not a spectator sport.” There was a lot to see and do in Philadelphia’s History Square Mile – and, a lot to think about. From 1790 to 1800 Philadelphia was the Capital of the United States.