By Katherine Gibbs
In honor of our nation’s 240 anniversary the Texas criminal defense lawyers association organized a reading of the Declaration of Independence at the Bell County courthouse on July 1. The reading started in 2010 with just a few counties and is now in all 254 counties across Texas, with this being the second time that the reading has been held in Bell County.
The reading started at noon when the sun was high as people were gathering at the flag pole. Most of the people there were lawyers but there were also a few regular people present for the occasion. The beginning of the Declaration is known to everyone, we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Mary Beth Harrell, a lawyer in Killeen said that the Declaration should, “Highlight that all lawyers whether you’re a defense attorney, prosecutor or judge is committed to a criminal justice system that is transparent, honest and fair.”
The Declaration is the foundation of our nation and is what everyone should strive for in their life. Different people read through the Declaration all the way to the signatures at the bottom and then after the reading people departed.
Harrell also added that, “In 2016 I think we should also add color blind and gender neutral, it doesn’t matter age, sex, creed, religion, race.”
Two Temple residents, Chip and Joan Howell dressed up as Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross for this occasion. After talking to an attorney about visiting the Ronald McDonald house she suggested that they make an appearance at the reading and contacted Harrell about making it happen. This was their first year to attend the reading but they were also planning to be involved in other Fourth of July festivities. They bought the costumes from a store in Waco where they were hand sewed, which lent authenticity to their outfits.