Large crowd enjoys Kaskaskia Fourth of July Kaskaskia.
Byline: Jim Beers Contributing writer
Randolph County's 50th annual patriotic ceremony, titled, "Let Freedom Ring," was held July 4 at Kaskaskia State Park.
Normally it is held on Kaskaskia Island, home of the "Liberty Bell of the West", but the high waters of the Mississippi River forced the change of venue.
The park provided a beautiful backdrop for the celebration in spite of 97-degree heat. Shelter No. 1 sits high on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, giving guests a wonderful view of the landscape and the flooded plains across the river.
At 12:30 p.m. the Chester Municipal Band began the celebration with a 30-minute preprogram concert directed by Steve Colonel. The official program began with the presentation of the colors by the Chester Boys Scouts, the V.F.W. Post 3553 Color Guard and the Chester American Legion Post 487 Color Guard. The Chester Scouts then led the guests in the Pledge of Allegiance and the band accompanied the crowd in singing the "The Star Spangled Banner."
The invocation was provided by the Rev. Mike Fogerson, pastor at the First Baptist Church in Chester. Nate Brown of Chester was master of ceremonies for the event. Opening welcomes and remarks were offered by Don Welge and Don Martin Welge is a long-standing member of the ceremony group and Martin represented the Illinois Division of Natural Resources.
Emily Lyons, who represented the Liberty Bell of the West Chapter NSDAR, provided her annual "Kaskaskia Welcome". Ed Fisher of Chester followed with a portrayal of Shadrach Bond, the first governor of Illinois, followed by the singing of the state song, "Illinois," by Steve Colonel, accompanied by the Chester Municipal Band.
Next on the program were the acknowledgments of the commanders of both the American Legion and V.F.W. in Chester. Benjamin Picou is the commander of the Legion Post 487 and Payne is the commander of V.F.W. Post 3553 in Chester.
The band played, "The Armed Forces Salute," in which active military members and veterans are asked to stand when their branch's song is played.
Chester City Alderman Randy Dudenbostel and Perryville, Missouri Mayor Ken Baer Baer welcomed everyone.
The keynote address was made by David MacDonald, a retired Illinois State University professor, who spoke on "The Decline of Kaskaskia and the Rise of Chester," which detailed how the Randolph County seat was moved to Chester from Kaskaskia.
Immediately after MacDonald's address the band performed "Battle Hymn of the Republic" with featured soloist, Steve Colonel.
The combined American Legion and V.F.W. rifle squads did the annual firing salute and Brian Roth of St. Louis, formerly of Chester, played "Taps." The Chester Municipal Band then performed "America the Beautiful" with soloist Steve Colonel.
Honorary Bell Ringers then rang their hand-held bells in lieu of the traditional Liberty Bell of the West. This traditional event is titled, "Bells Ring for Liberty". Following the ringing of the bells, the Chester Muni Band performed their final selection of the day, "God Bless America".
To close the 2019 ceremony Pastor Fogerson gave a benediction and the colors were retired by the V.F.W, Legion and Boy Scout color guards.