Today marks America’s 240th year of independence. We would like to wish everyone a happy and safe Independence Day.

Winchester has a special connection to the founding fathers who drafted the Declaration of Independence more than 200 years ago.

On the corner of West Cork and Braddockb Streets stands s rock and stone structure that George Washington used as his office early in his military career, some 20 years before leading the Continental Army in the fight for independence against British Rule.

By July 1776, Washington had come a long way from his humble log cabin office in the frontier of the Northern Shenandoah Valley. Washington, now a General, found himself thrust into the hustle of New York City acting as Command-in-Chief of a rag-tag group of Minutemen. Surrounded by his men and citizens, Washington read aloud a freshly written declaration approved by the Continental Congress calling for American independence from Great Britain. The thousands of Continental soldiers who had come from Boston to defend New York City listened in awe, as did the city’s residents.

Before reading the formal declaration, Washington explained that Congress had “dissolved the connection” between “this country” and Great Britain and declared the “United Colonies of North America” to be “free and independent states”.

Stirred by Washington’s prologue and Thomas Jefferson’s proclamations, the soldiers and citizens were so moved that a small riot ensued. The patriotic horde attacked a statue of King George III, symbolically beheading it, and later melting it down to make bullets to be used in defense of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

One year later, on July 4, 1777, Continental Congress marked Independence Day by adjourning and celebrating with bonfires, bells and fireworks.

However you choose to celebrate the day please take a moment to reflect on what Independence Day really means. Within the pursuit of happiness is home ownership, and we, here at Habitat for Humanity of Winchester-Frederick County, are involved in making that privilege—that gift of the American experience—a reality for local, hardworking families.

Rhetoric about rights and independence aside, George Washington was also keenly aware of the need for benevolence within a fledging society. In a letter to a younger relative, dated Jan. 15, 1783, he wrote: “Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distresses of every one, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse… not every one who asketh that deserveth charity; all, however, are worthy of the inquiry, or the deserving may suffer.”

At HFHWFC, we offer a hand up, not a handout. We work with our families side by side to create strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. Together we can continue to strive to eliminate substandard housing throughout the Winchester-Frederick County region. We also invite you to inquire about our work, ask questions, and see if our mission aligns with your giving spirit.

We wish you the best this Fourth of July, and urge you to find your passions, use your voice, build your community and be both resilient and altruistic in your beliefs.

Contact us at: info@habitatwfc.org or call us at 540.662.7066 to schedule an informative tour.