There will always be Independence Day parades, picnics, and fireworks, but there is only one Reading of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, to be held in Strawberry Fields, Central Park, this coming July 4, starting at noon. For the fourth year in a row, famed civil liberties attorney, Norman Siegel, and his friends will read portions of the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence aloud, interspersed with comments from Siegel and other Constitutional authorities on the status of certain amendments today. THE PUBLIC IS INVITED TO ATTEND!!
We've seen many of our Constitutional rights trampled upon in recent years, and it is Siegel's hope that a review and analysis of the Bill of Rights and some of the important Constitution amendments will encourage people to fight to defend those rights as guaranteed in the document underlying our democracy.
"The 4th of July is a special day for all Americans and New Yorkers. We look forward to reading out loud and discussing our Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence to demonstrate that these unique principles and values should be remembered at this time," said Siegel.
Mr. Siegel will be accompanied, as in the three previous years of the Reading, by the granny contingent -- Grandmothers Against the War, the Raging Grannies, and the Granny Peace Brigade, which he defended in 2005 when they were on trial for attempting to enlist in the military at the Times Square recruiting center. It is no surprise that after a six-day trial in criminal court, they were all acquitted, helped by the expert defense of Mr. Siegel and his co-attorney, Earl Ward.
This unique commemoration began 42 years ago when Siegel started, alone, to read the Constitution to himself wherever he was. In 2007, the grannies promoted the idea to him of making it an annual public event in the beautiful and tranquil oasis, Strawberry Fields, donated to New York City by Yoko Ono in memory of her husband, John Lennon.
Many people turned out for the event all three years, and thus began a beautiful and inspiring tradition, which, it is hoped, will continue on indefinitely as a regular Only in New York feature. It is thought that it may be not only a one-of-a-kind July 4 celebration in New York, but perhaps in the entire United States.
Yoko Ono has always been enthusiastic about the Reading and wrote a statement and poem to be read aloud each year in honor of the occasion, as follows:
"When we stand up for Peace, we are being thanked by the earth underneath
us, the sky above us, and the billions and billions of people on this globe
who wish for the same. Our heart beats in unison with them, and with the
children of the World, who wish not to be maimed or be orphaned. It is
important that each one of us will stand up and be counted. It's time to do
so. I am glad that grannies are making their voices be heard. I want them
to know that I am with them. With my deepest love, in sisterhood."
Yoko Ono July '07
We're people with
Energy and wit
Let's give our best
And put the war to rest
It's time for Action
There's no option.
Spread the word
To heal the world
Bring back the soldiers
Our sons and daughters
Spread the word
And heal the world
DATE: July 4, 2010
TIME: 12 o'clock noon
PLACE: Strawberry Fields, Central Park -- enter park at W. 72nd St.., follow the sign down
a short path