February 20, 2016
Philadelphia is so full of history that tourists sometimes just stumble upon it, as they did Saturday morning when the Sons of the American Revolution honored Georges Washington and his soldiers.
“We just ran into it!” said Natalie Peters, who was in town from New York to tour buildings.
Instead, she and her mother, Ruth Peters, got a bit of living history as men clad in Revolutionary War garb gathered in Washington Square to pay their respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier.
Natalie, who is studying Greek mythology, including the concept of the afterworld, looked startled when she realized the land she stood on during the ceremony was where thousands of Colonial-era soldiers – both British and American – were hastily interred. An eternal flame, marker and statue of Washington are a part of the square at 6th and Walnut streets.
“History here is huge!” said her mother. “It’s integral. There’s so much.”
The Peters, who are from New York, were on their way to Independence Hall when they happened on the ceremony of a color guard laying a wreath to honor the unknown soldiers buried beneath their feet.
José Luis Ligles, 21, who was in town to apply for a graduate program at Temple University, likewise ran into the ceremony by happenstance.
“I didn’t know so much about Philadelphia before. It has a lot of history,” said the native of Spain who had planned on going to Independence Hall, but came upon the color guard and wreath laying.
Ellis Adams, president of the local SAR chapter, explained everyone who participated in the event is related to someone who fought in the Revolutionary War. The Philadelphia chapter has conducted the brief service for more than 50 years.
Like the tourists, the SAR was also soon off to Independence Hall to lay a wrath at a bust of Washington in advance of his holiday on Monday.