What's going on?
October 2014 marks the 350th anniversary of the royal charter that established the colony of New Jersey. The colonists founded Elizabethtown, named in honor of the wife of the first Governor, Philip Carteret, on the grounds of what is now the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth. The church is adjacent to the Union County Courthouse.
Why is this important?
A Three Hundred Fifty year celebration can be much more than an occasion for self-congratulation. For the next three years, New Jerseyans have a unique opportunity to remember the core values and struggles that have built this state, particularly in our incredible History, Education, Industry, and Infrastructure. These four critical components have made and continue to make us great. Localities, schools, and clubs can examine what each component has meant and continues to mean in their particular context. We remind ourselves that although we are the most diverse state in the union, every successive group and generation has more in common with the ones who went before than they realize. We can therefore use these four areas as a framework to explore the past, celebrate the present, and plan for the future.
Where will we celebrate?
All over the state, but why not the nation and even the world! We know New Jersey's impact far exceeds its physical size or population. At the very least, we who live and work in the Greater Elizabeth region can remind everyone that New Jersey literally began in our backyard and most of the American Revolution was fought where we now work, live, and drive every day.
Who is involved?
Everyone should be! From families who can trace themselves to the founders to those who just arrived, our stories are the same: People came, are coming, and will continue to move to New Jersey to start new lives and find the opportunities that were denied them elsewhere. We know that for 350 years most of those who moved here indeed found what they sought. Right now, we are starting the planning for our celebration. We need your ideas, energy, imagination and time.
When do we start?
Anytime. The City of Elizabeth and Union County has formed its organizing committee. We're encouraging our region's cities and counties to do the same. A statewide commission is also underway through the sponsorship of our local representatives.
How do I get involved?
Send an email to Bob Higgs, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth, firstname.lastname@example.org. We're looking for history lovers, New Jersey lovers, businesspeople, as well as leaders in Industry, Education, History, and Infrastructure. But mostly we need just about anyone who wants to help remember and tell the story of the American Dream from a New Jersey point of view. We'll be putting a list of interested persons together and start meeting soon.