December 5, 2021

Remembering the start and working toward the future

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Charles “Chip” Jermy III, left, reads the Declaration of Independence while his father, Charles “Bud” Jermy Jr., listens on Saturday in front of the Church on the Green in Homer. Saturday’s reading was the 25th year the two have read the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July.

In what marked the 25th year of reading the Declaration of Independence, Charles “Chip” Jermy III said Saturday’s reading was somewhat like the first.

There was a small — or smaller than usual — crowd, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the event didn’t last longer than 20 minutes.

Still, people showed up.

“This year, in a year we thought no one was going to come up here, people did, which means it matters to them,” he said.

About 40 people came to listen to Jermy III and his father Charles “Bud” Jermy Jr. read the Declaration of Independence in front of the Church on the Green — next to the Homer Village Green — in Homer.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the event was shorter and less interactive than in years past, Jermy III said.

Normally, the reading would take place inside the Center for the Arts of Homer, where an introduction would be given and audience members would read sections of the document. After finishing, bell ringers in buildings with bells, like the Homer Fire Department and the green’s churches, would bring the bells.

Sometimes, a miniature cannon would be fired as well.

Attendees were still happy the event happened Saturday.

“This is a great event,” said Mark Webster, of Cortland. “It’s a historic reckoning. Our country’s going through some challenges right now and I think it’s good to go back and look at why we started and what were the freedoms.”

Webster, who was there with his wife, Dianne Webster, said Saturday was the first time the couple had attended the event, as they had often been away on previous Fourth of July weekends.

With the coronavirus preventing traditional festivities, they were finally able to attend.

“To me, it’s kind of humbling and kind of a refresher,” Dianne Webster said. “I think sometimes there is a lot of celebration and I’m not sure people really contemplate the meaning of that. I think this is a good thing to start the day off with.”

It was also the first time Ginger Dudgeon, of Homer, attended.

“I think it’s a great idea,” she said. “I’m glad to see people socially distancing and being here” noting the people spread across the green and closer to the church.

Understanding the context and the meaning of the document during the present day, where people are exposing and fighting against police brutality, racism and injustice toward minority groups, made Jermy Jr. get choked up with the document’s last phrase, “We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

“I broke up on that because we’re not doing that as a nation and I think, now more than ever, we’re divided in so many ways,” he said. “I think we as Americans need to say, ‘we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.’”

The father and son duo hope to have a big celebration at next year’s reading like they were planning to this year but said that the significance of the documents should remain as goals the country should continue to try to achieve.

“The thing is, it’s not a perfect union and the Founding Fathers acknowledged it wasn’t,” Jermy III said. “We’re human beings. We’re flawed. I think the focus needs to be on a more perfect union” that the country works toward together.