Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!
As we were leaving our hotel in Richmond one morning after the HEAV convention on our way to visit the disappearing chef (You’ll hear all about it later!), we happened to run into our friends Larry & Sue Pruett of Ancient Paths Christian Bookstore who were packing their van. Sue mentioned that they were going to visit St. John’s Church to see the re-enactment of Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech. We decided to head over, too.
St. John’s Episcopal Church is on Church Hill, a lovely spot in Old Richmond. When you step into the gates, there’s not much to clue you in that it’s not the 1770s. I had always pictures a big brick church, but instead, it’s a lovely, small, white country kind of church. Inside, it’s just delightful with very upright, narrow pews with doors, beautiful tall windows, some stained glass and some plain, and “I am the way, the truth and the life” arched over the back wall. While we were waiting for the re-enactment to begin, the organist played and the attendees sang a selection of patriotic songs like the songs of each branch of the services, God Bless America, and the Star-Spangled Banner. I would have preferred that they stick to the patriotic hymns instead of the service songs, as good as those are, since we there on Sunday in a church building, though, of course, it wasn’t a worship assembly. “America, America” would have been a fantastic addition to the presentation.
Once the re-enactment began, it was just perfect! About ten delegates in Colonial garb seated themselves throughout the audience and at the front, and proceded with the events of that momentous day as if we were part of the assembly! It was so real, and so wonderful to hear again those sentiments of liberty and resolve. It was eerie, too, to hear it all as if we were there. You could hardly help but think of all the challenges to our liberty we face these days and wonder what the Founders would have thought of a requirement to buy healthcare insurance, for example. It came alive in a very remarkable way, helping us to remember just how much our forefathers risked to bring forth the freest nation on earth.
The actors were excellent and delivered the famous speeches with the vim and force that was typical of the time — so refreshing! All in all, it was one of the most worthwhile afternoons studying history I can imagine. It was really just like being there! You need to do this. Re-enactments are every Sunday afternoon at 2pm in the summer and on the Sunday nearest March 23rd, the original date of the speech. Free, donations are accepted. Highly recommended.
If you’d like to learn more about our founding fathers, one of the best resources we know is Hero Tales from American History. Written by Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge to teach virtue to children, it brings out the character of the heroes of America in a wonderful way — and we turned it into an audiobook with sound effects!