WYOMING — As a multi-country resident, Wyoming Seminary President Kevin Rea noted his own personal torment with the Battle of Wyoming as hundreds gathered at the Wyoming Monument Monday morning to celebrate Independence Day and to remember some of the Wyoming Valley’s local history.
The Wyoming Commemorative Association held the 188th annual commemorative service of the battle and massacre of Wyoming, which occurred on July 3, 1778.
Having grown up in Rhode Island, Rea later moved to the United Kingdom to study literature and ultimately become a citizen of the UK.
“So I stand before you - on the Fourth of July - a holder of two passports,” Rea said. “One British, one American.”
Rea spoke about the Battle of Wyoming through summarizing Thomas Campbell’s 1809 poem of the event, “Gertrude of Wyoming.” He compared the poem to that of a miniseries, noting climatic points of the battle and love story between Gertrude and William Waldergrave, a young orphan boy whom Gertrude’s father, Albert, took in.
Living in the area for about a year now, Rea said he could relate to the poem and hopes it offers local residents fascinating insights about the Wyoming Valley, and the historical significance of the Battle of Wyoming.
“On this Independence Day, and in this place where we pay tribute to our patriots who have sacrificed it all, we pay tribute to their independent spirit, to the love of their homes in this valley. We also - through the power of poetry - appreciate the importance of preserving our own independence of mind and heart, the foundation of true freedom and the basis of our ability to love our country.”
As patrons gathered under the canopy alongside the monument, patriotic melodies from the Wyoming Valley Band, headed by Donald Williams, greeted guests. Marcella Starr, president of the Wyoming Monument Association, thanked local groups for their assistance in the event.
The ceremony also included the swearing in of Dr. William Lewis Jr., the state’s commissioner for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, located in Harrisburg. Luzerne County Judge Richard Hughes presented the oath of office.
About 50 floral tributes were presented and adorned around the monument from local historical, military and municipality chapters, preceded by the firing of arms.
According to Starr, the monument association is seeking grants or donations to assist in replacing the concrete around the monument, its fencing and maintenance of the grounds.