Four years ago, when James Hanby Sr. organized downtown Augusta’s first annual event in honor of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence, only nine people showed up – and six were family.
Last Independence Day, nearly 80 attended the ceremony at the Signers Monument on Greene Street in front of the Augusta Municipal Building.
This year, the 1989 graduate of Hephzibah High School said he hopes to use that momentum to bring national attention and state acclaim to the event.
“Let’s show off Augusta,” said the Delaware Magistrate Judge who returns home to Augusta each year for his birthday, which is also the Fourth of July. “This year’s event is (going) to be better than ever.”
Hanby said through the help of Richmond County Superior Court Judge James Blanchard Jr., the Savannah River Brass Band has agreed to play patriotic music for the event, starting about 9 a.m. Friday.
At 9:30 a.m., the Evans High School JROTC will present the colors to start the ceremony and Dr. Lee Caldwell, the director of the Center for the Study of Georgia History at Georgia Regents University and the historian-in-residence, will speak on Signer George Walton.
Rep. John Barrow has confirmed that he will attend.
Hanby, whose grandfather retired from Fort Gordon in 1966, said the event carries great significance for him and Augusta.
“Augusta is blessed with not only the home of George Walton, but also the Signers Monument dedicated to all three of Georgia’s Signers of the Declaration of Independence and the final resting place of two of them,” he said. “We have a proud part to play in the telling of the founding of our nation.”
George Walton and Lyman Hall are buried beneath the monument. It is unknown where Button Gwinnett was buried.