GROTON -- The Groton Minutemen will soon travel to liberty's birthplace to march in one of the nation's top Fourth of July venues.
Along a 2-mile parade route, the Groton Minutemen will join other Revolutionary and Civil War era reenactors to represent the nation's founding generation in Philadelphia, home of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.
"There are only so many people they allow in the parade," said Groton Minutemen event planner Sue Roberts. "You have to get your paperwork in within a certain amount of time. We did and were asked if we wanted to march."
With a full slate of city-wide events scheduled to take place in the days leading up to the Fourth of July, the celebration climaxes on the last day with a parade. It's expected to include up to 5,000 participants.
Winding through one of the country's "most historic square miles," the parade will pass before Independence Hall where the first Congress met and the Founding Fathers risked their lives and fortunes in signing the Declaration of Independence.
There, a reviewing stand will host various dignitaries with the day marked by a symbolic Liberty Bell tapping.
One pleasure that residents of Groton have that bystanders at the Philadelphia parade will have to do without is the traditional firing of muskets by the Minutemen.
"Live firing of muskets is a big no-no," said Roberts.
Thirty members strong, the Groton Minuteman company was re-activated in 1974 in anticipation of the country's bicentennial celebration. The original Groton company was one of several area companies whose men responded to Concord's "shot heard 'round the world" fired at British soldiers on April 19, 1775. Groton Minutemen then joined the running battle, harassing enemy soldiers as they retreated to Boston, and then helped to man Breed's Hill (or Bunker Hill as it was later mistakenly identified) against repeated British assaults.
Today's members, although simply reenactors, take pride in a heritage shared by the entire community and are cognizant that every day, history is still being made in Groton.
"The kind of person who does this kind of historical reenactment is a person who has a love of history," explained Roberts. "We have a couple of reasons for doing it: One is to keep the history of the town alive and another is to keep it out there where people can see it. Our forefathers were there at Bunker Hill and the rest of the Revolutionary War. It's wanting to remember Groton's history and what happened here years ago. We want to perpetuate that memory."
Although anyone can join the Groton Minuteman Company, there are some hurdles those interested must first consider, not the least of them being money. Unless a member is good with a needle and thread, Revolutionary era clothing and accoutrements must be self provided including muskets and powder.
Also costly is travel, the funds for which are raised through dues and earnings made by marching in area parades. The rest, if needed, is provided by the individual members.
According to Roberts, the cost of the bus to transport the company to the city of brotherly love will come to $3,800.
But it is an expense members are willing to take on for the opportunity to represent Groton as they have before at similar events such as Concord's own parades, Boston's St. Patrick's Day parade, and the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. This time, however, it will be in a national, Philadelphia, marching along with companies from many other states.
"It's the most well attended parade I've ever seen," said Roberts. "In the parade, you start walking toward Independence Hall then, on the next street, it's just wall to wall people on both sides of the street. People there are very enthusiastic, very appreciative of marchers who have come a great distance to attend."
Those interested in supporting the company or thinking of joining it, can find out more from company president Todd Monaco at 978-449-9912 or visit http://grotonminutemancompanyorg.weebly.com/