Colin Tudor '05 will be channeling the spirit of Thomas Jefferson when he recites the Declaration of Independence Wednesday morning at Memorial Park, the first of the T. Willard Hunter speakers who will give 10-minute speeches during the city's 64th annual Fourth of July celebration.
If the name Tudor rings a familiar (albeit not Liberty) bell, it's because Colinwho is the interim assistant city manager of Claremonthappens to the son of Marsha Tudor, CMC's associate director of facilities and campus services. He is also a graduate of CMC's Class of 2005.
For the Tudors, Independence Day in Claremont is a family affair, as Colin's wife, Amber, is the city's special events coordinator, in charge of initiating the planning process each year in August.
"People love to come and see this hometown event," Tudor says. "The entire dayfrom the festival to the paradeis straight out of 1950s middle America. It is a quintessentially American celebration of Independence Day."
So popular is it, that as many as 25,000 residents and visitors are expected to be in the city over the course of the day. "My speech," he says, jokingly, "will probably attract about 30."
The speechifying part of the festivities began in 1977 with the formation by T. Willard Hunter of a "Speaker's Corner" which allowed willing pundits to hold forth on anything and everything. "Personally, I think this part of the event is one of the things that make the Claremont Fourth celebration so unique," Tudor says. "It is the embodiment of the First Amendment and the American spirit to take the opportunity to speak, and then to do so."
According to Tudor, Willard would usually fill in gaps when there were no speaker sign-ups. And one staple speech each year was a recitation of the Declaration of Independence. Willard died in 2009, and for the past few years, chairs of the events committee have read the Declaration.
"This year, however, they were looking for volunteers, and Amber volunteered me," Tudor says. "I am very excited for the opportunity, and the honor to participate in such a unique tradition."
A philosophy and psychology double major at CMC, Tudor's course of study underscored several "self-evident truths" that are identified in the Declaration and go to the root of what it means to be an American.
"The first is Voltaire's concept that I may not agree with what you have to say ,but I will defend your right to say it," Tudor says. "Second is de Tocqueville's self interest properly understood,' as explained by his story in Democracy in America, where he notes that the difference between Americans and Europeans is that if a group of Americans came across a fallen tree in the road, they would get to work cutting it up and getting it out of the way, while the Europeans would wait for the government to come and deal with the tree."
Tudor believes that what is truly celebrated on the Fourth is precisely that dedication to protect the right of anyone to say anything, and fostering the spirit of community and cooperation necessary to do what needs to the done for the greater good.
"I think these tenets were held strongly by the Founding Fathers, and still are by the majority of Americans."