Liberty Day events celebrate Patrick Henry, founding fathers

HARVARD – Roger Erber is all for the celebratory nature of Liberty Day weekend. But his true hope is to send off those who attend the Harvard conference with some lasting perspective.

"It's more than just a party," Erber said. "We have a vision here."

Erber and other Liberty Day organizers will put that vision into motion at the conference this weekend at the Starline Factory. Festivities kick off with a concert Friday night, followed by a conference during the day Saturday before evening activities, which include entertainment, reenactments, a fashion show, costume parade and dance.

The yearly event celebrates Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death," speech, and examines the founding fathers' views on a given topic. This year, speaker Paul Jehle will address America's foreign policy.

The hope is that attendees will get a feel for the way our founding fathers would approach modern issues of foreign policy, Erber said.

"At least if we are thinking straight on some things, if nothing else it will affect our votes and how we think about things," he said.

Liberty Day didn't start out so ambitious.

The first year, Roger and Maggie Erber gathered their family of eight children in their living room to recite speeches and sing songs to celebrate Henry, a figure the family has always held dear.

"Everyone had an assignment to do something just to stir our hearts to liberty," Roger Erber said.

Those they told about the day expressed interest in attending the next year. For several years thereafter, Liberty Day was an event spread mainly by word of mouth – the Erber's invited those in their church and other homeschool families they knew.

Somewhere around 2004, Erber remembers, the family decided to take the event to the public – deciding to bring in a speaker to further the educational side of the celebration.

The event has grown since. A few years ago, about 1,100 people attended when the event was held at Wheaton College. It has mainly been held in Chicago's west suburbs since, but the Erbers were happy to bring it back to Harvard – to the Starline – last year.

Because logistical constraints on the family, last year's event didn't include the usual entertainment that accompanies the speaker.

This year, the Erbers have advertised and expect a large crowd – people they hope will leave with a new perspective.

"We're really doing this with a view of the future and generations to come," Erber said.

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