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Sons of American Revolution hold Independence Day program

Photo by Michele Newbanks Steve Frash and Larry Butcher finish getting their gear on before the Independence Day program at the Start Westward monument at Muskingum Park Thursday afternoon.

Although the Fourth of July parade was canceled this year, the Sons of the American Revolution still celebrated the holiday Thursday afternoon.

The SAR held a short ceremony at the Start Westward statue in Muskingum Park. Two members of the SAR color guard participated, while Marietta Chapter past president Jean Yost discussed the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. The event was not open to the public due to the pandemic.

During the program, Yost said the Northwest Ordinance was adopted on July 13, 1787. It opened the area north and west of the Ohio River for expansion into the Northwest Territory. The ordinance guaranteed protection of civil liberties, prohibited slavery, recognized religion and morality as necessary for good governance, and outlined that education should be forever encouraged in the new territories.

“(The Northwest Territory) was an area as large as the first 13 colonies,” he added.

The ordinance came before the U.S. Constitution, which was ratified in June 1788 and became effective in March 1789.

He said women were allowed to inherit land through the ordinance. Before, if a husband died, the land went to a male relative.

The freedom of religion was important, as Thomas Jefferson noted people could be put to death if they followed anything but the King’s Church, Yost said.

“In Virginia in the early 1800s, they were still tarring and feathering people if they were Baptist,” he added.

Yost said that in David McCullough’s newest book, “Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West”, the author said the ordinance was one of the top human rights documents in the world, along with the Declaration of Independence and Magna Carta.

This year’s program was held at the Start Westward statue as it is for patriots who served, for the ordinance and for the Constitution, Yost added.

Steve Frash, 72, of Roseville, and Larry Butcher, 77, of St. Marys, W.Va., traveled to Marietta as part of the SAR color guard.

Frash has been a member of SAR since February 2012 and has held several offices at the state level.

“My daughter asked me one day what nationality we were,” he said. He started the quest to learn more in 2010, as he was already interested in genealogy.

In his research, he found he was related to seven Revolutionary War patriots. He isn’t the only member of the organization. His wife, Wanda, and two daughters belong to the sister organization, Daughters of the American Revolution, while a grandson belongs to the SAR.

“I just enjoy this,” Frash said.

Members attend parades, grave markings and memorials where the battles were, he added.

To join the SAR or DAR, a person has to prove lineage beyond a shadow of a doubt back to the Revolutionary War. Frash said it doesn’t have to be soldiers, it could be those who helped with war efforts.

For example, in Frash’s lineage includes John Adams Rousch, who supplied beef and tanning supplies to patriots, as well as Michael Zerkel, who helped guard the waterways.

“Both of us are very proud of our heritage,” he said of his wife, Wanda.

Frash said it wasn’t just men who fought in the war. Women, such as Molly Pitcher, took on men’s roles during the war.

According to biography.com, Molly Pitcher was an American patriot who carried pitchers of water to soldiers during the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Monmouth, thereby earning her nickname. After her husband collapsed during the battle, she took over the operation of his cannon.

“There’s so much history people don’t understand,” Frash said.

Wanda noted that Marietta has a unique distinction when it comes to the Revolutionary War.

“Mound Cemetery has more Revolutionary soldiers than any other cemetery,” she said.

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

At a glance:

• An Independence Day program was held in Muskingum Park Thursday.

• The event was held at Start Westward monument by the Sons of the American Revolution.

• Big outcome of the Revolutionary War was Northwest Ordinance of 1787.

• Ordinance prohibited slavery, recognized religion and gave rights to women.

Source: Sons of the American Revolution.

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