Bill to get ball rolling on Va. commemoration of U.S. independence

The famous John Trumbull painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence can be found in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.

It’s a quirky word that you soon will be hearing more of: “Semiquincentennial.”

That’s the formal word for 250th anniversary, and with that anniversary of the American Revolution on the near horizon, Virginia’s state government soon could be gearing up to join in the festivities.

A measure patroned by state Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax-Arlington) and wending its way through the corridors of power in Richmond would designate the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation as the lead state agency for overseeing the commemoration of the unpleasantness (since mended, for the most part) between Britain and its American colonies, which began unofficially in 1775 with skirmishes in Lexington and Concord, Mass.

Fighting continued until the surrender of Britain’s Lord Cornwallis in Yorktown in 1781, and signing of the Treaty of Paris officially ended hostilities in September 1783.

The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, which traces its roots to establishment by the General Assembly in 1958, has provided leadership for a number of major commemorations, including the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, and the 375th and 400th anniversaries of the establishment of the General Assembly.

Howell’s measure also directs other state agencies to provide assistance and advice to the foundation as it prepares for the upcoming anniversary.

At the national level, President Obama in 2016 signed legislation establishing the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, which will partner with the non-profit American Battlefield Trust to support and raise funds for commemorative events, under overall control of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

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