May 8, 2007

Jamestown celebrates 400 years

by Erin Fitch, News Reporter
Jamestown is celebrating America’s 400th Anniversary this month with a ten-day commemorative event honoring the first permanent English settlement to survive in the New World.

To kick off the celebration, the Commonwealth of Virginia literally rolled out the red carpet in tribute of Queen Elizabeth II’s visit. Her Majesty arrived in Richmond to address the Virginia General Assembly on May 3 and was accompanied by her husband, his Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

The royal couple, who also visited Jamestown for the settlement’s 350th anniversary in May 1957, were welcomed to the historic site by Vice President Dick Cheney, Governor Tim Kaine and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Vice President Cheney remarked on Her Majesty’s second visit to Jamestown.

“A half-century has done nothing to diminish the respect and affection in which this country holds you,” said Cheney. “We receive you again today in that same spirit.”

The Queen’s tour of Jamestown included visiting replicas of an armory and the Jamestown Church as well as the archeological site of the original 1607 James Fort, a three-sided structure first discovered in 1996.

Big plans are also underway for America’s Anniversary weekend scheduled for May 11-13. President and First Lady Laura Bush will be attending a ceremony in Jamestown on Sunday, May 13.

Stuart W. Connock, chair of the Jamestown 2007 Steering Committee, remarked on the President’s upcoming appearance for the event.

“The President’s participation in Anniversary Weekend festivities underscores the pivotal role Jamestown played in our nation’s history and helps further focus the world’s attention on Jamestown’s legacies – representative government, free enterprise and a culturally diverse society,” said Connock in a press release. On Saturday, May 12, replicas of the three ships that brought the first English settlers to Jamestown – the Susan Constant, the Discovery and the Godspeed – will set sail accompanied by fanfare and cannon salutes from the James River. They will conclude their short journey by docking at the Jamestown museum pier.

Musical entertainment highlights for the weekend will include performances by Grammy award-winning rockers Bruce Hornsby and the NoiseMakers, R&B artist Chaka Khan and bluegrass crooner Ricky Skaggs.

The Jamestown Settlement will also feature gallery exhibits of life in the 17th-century colony as well as historical re-enactors depicting life aboard the settlers’ three ships, the historic James fort and the Powhatan Indian community.

Thomas Road Baptist Church also celebrated the 400th anniversary planting of the cross at Jamestown on April 29 with a “God and Country Musical”. The evening featured the 300-voice Thomas Road Celebration Choir, Linwood Campbell and the OTGH orchestra. Speaker, author and historian David Barton, of the Texas-based Wallbuilders ministry, also spoke on the religious heritage of America, detailing the rich history of the American founders’ faith and Christian heritage.

English settlers first arrived in Jamestown on May 14, 1607 and named their colony after King James I. The group of 104 men were sponsored by the Virginia Trading Company, which hoped to find treasures of gold and silver in the New World. Instead of riches, however, the men endured much hardship in the new colony, facing famine, disease and attacks from the Algonquin tribe.

More information about the weekend is available at Americas400thAnniversary.com or by calling the Jamestown 2007 office at (757) 253-4659. Tickets can also be reserved through Colonial Williamsburg at (866) 400-1607. Tickets for the weekend must be purchased in advance and cost $30 per day for adults and $15 for children ages six to 12. Children six and under are free.

Contact Erin Fitch at eefitch@liberty.edu.
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