Gov. Ivey speaks at American Village about nation’s semiquincentennial

By MACKENZEE SIMMS | Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – Under a banner of red, white and blue, Gov. Kay Ivey graced the stage of Liberty Hall at the American Village in Montevallo for the May meeting of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission on the evening of Thursday, May 9.

At the meeting, Ivey joined the ranks of congressmen and representatives to discuss America’s past and future as the country draws close to a historical milestone, the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

“Our young people need to know that the liberty we enjoy today was won—and is still earned—with blood, sweat and tears,” Ivey said. “Almost 250 years ago, people from all walks of life came together to self-identify as Americans. Today, we must not forget how they overcame their differences and learned how to unify as citizens of the greatest country on Earth.”

Established by Congress in 2016, the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission is a nonpartisan commission tasked with organizing the commemoration the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Although the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission is a national effort, many states have joined the movement and created their own state-level commissions.

Ivey signed to create the Alabama USA Semiquincentennial Commisson on Feb. 11, 2021. This commission designated the American Village as the headquarters for the state’s efforts because of the institution’s mission to civic education.

“It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 25 years since (the American Village) opened to the public for civic education classrooms and schools across Alabama and the Southeast,” Ivey said. “Now, over 800,000 students have gone back in time to witness those grand moments of America’s founding.”

Commission chair and former Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios shared the belief that each state carries an important story, which is why she is grateful for every state that has established its own state semiquincentennial commission.

“We cannot do this without the states,” Rios said. “Alabama’s history is amazing, beautiful and tortured, the same way the rest of our country has experienced all our history. Those stories need to be told. But we cannot tell those stories, Alabama needs to tell those stories.”

According to Rios, the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission is more than just a birthday party.

“This is not just about a Fourth of July fireworks display in 2026,” Rios said. “What we are planning are high impact, large-scale, galvanizing public initiatives. Our goal is to activate 350 million Americans and use a global platform that we know is also coming to the U.S.”

In 2026, the same year as the semiquincentennial, 11 cities in the United States will host matches for the FIFA World Cup. During this time, America will also be preparing to host the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

With the eyes of the world on the United States, Rios believes that America has a unique opportunity.

“The culmination of these historical milestones is an opportunity for all of us,” Rios said. “It’s an opportunity to be just so focused on inspiring the next generation of leadership. We as a bipartisan, all-partisan, nonpartisan commission have taken this on with the future in mind.”

The U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission is supported by the nonprofit, America250. The commission launched its first public initiative in March called America’s Field Trip. In this initiative, students between grades 3-12 can submit artwork, videos or essays addressing the prompt “What does America mean to you?”

The 25 winners of this contest will receive a free trip—travel and lodging included—to participating historical/cultural sites. Students could win a special tour of the Smithsonian, an exclusive glimpse inside the American History Museum’s vault or a backstage pass to the American Village.

“We want to inspire these kids to think about our national treasures, to rediscover our country all over again and understand the history and—more than anything—the values on which our country were founded,” Rios said.

Between America250’s initiatives and U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission meetings, many preparations have been made for the summer 2026 and beyond.

“We hope you all feel the special appreciation we have for our nation’s founding and for all those who seek to celebrate and commemorate America’s 250th birthday,” Ivey said.

For more information about the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, visit America250.org.

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