As a thick mist encompassed Mount Airy, Mike Lowe rang a bell on Main Street summoning people to the reading of the document which started it all for the United States of America.
Dozens turned out at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History on Monday morning to hear Lowe read the Declaration of Independence. Lowe said it’s the third or fourth year he has read the document aloud to the group which gathers at the museum.
The Mount Airy resident explained he was reading the Declaration just as it was read 240 years ago in cities and towns throughout the colonies. Reading it aloud would have been a necessity in 1776, as many people were not literate.
Lowe was joined in the courtyard at the museum by Betsy Ross, portrayed by Gail Norman. Norman said she’s been portraying Ross on Independence Day for 11 years.
Norman’s appearance at the museum was only a portion of her role in the festivities. After Lowe had completed the reading, those in the courtyard joined the thousands of people lining Main Street for the Fourth of July parade.
Just behind a Mount Airy police cruiser, Norman led the parade, which began at Veterans Memorial Park, into downtown.
As in years’ past, the 2016 Independence Day parade included multiple fire departments and rescue squads. Local veteran groups, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion, the Marine Corps League, Disabled American Veterans and Vietnam Veterans of America, had contingents in the parade.
Those lining the streets cheered on those who have taken up arms in defense of freedom as they passed, including one special veteran.
Lorain Lambert is part of a fading generation — one of few World War II veterans remaining. Lambert served as co-grand marshal for the parade. He deployed to the Pacific Theater of combat, where he was sent to the Philippines then to the Japanese mainland to search for weapons caches after two atomic bombs ended the war.
Lambert’s son-in-law, David Sparks, a Vietnam era veteran and also a member of the local VFW post, said he’s been in dozens of the parades as part of the post’s honor guard. Despite the “uncertainty” of the weather Monday morning, this year’s parade drew one of the largest crowds Sparks has seen.
Sparks said the crowd might have been due in part to Lambert’s appearance.
“The whole family was so excited about this,” said Sparks. “Dozens of family members turned out.”
Sparks said such a prominent position in the parade could not have gone to a better person than Lambert, who rarely misses a VFW meeting at 91 years old.
“He was tickled,” explained Sparks. “I think it really touched him to see the outpouring of appreciation.”
“From our standpoint, it was a banner day for our family.”
The white Jeep in which Lambert rode followed shortly behind the vehicle carrying Lanie Pope, a television meteorologist who also served as a co-grand marshal.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.