On Thursday, June 29, I had the privilege and honor of speaking during the intermission of the Westfield Community Band's celebration of Independence Day. Here's the speech I delivered about how fortunate we are to be Americans.

Thank you to the Westfield Community Concert Band for the patriotic program that we get to enjoy tonight! Thank you to the Westfield Chapters of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution for your dedication to history and preservation, as well as for your continued community projects that you support locally and around the country.

I’m honored to be here as a resident, council person, and direct descendent of the Root family, on my paternal side, and I know that our family is proud to have Root ancestors, from Clinton County, N.Y., not too far away from here, who played a small part in the defeat of the British army over a period of two weeks in Saratoga, N.Y., in the fall of 1777. 

I didn’t know that fact until recently, and it makes me think on a night like tonight that, when we are all here in beautiful Westfield at this gorgeous park with our loved ones and friends listening to glorious music, how far we’ve come and how fortunate we are to be Americans. 

I spent most of my adolescence overseas because my father worked for the U.S. Department of State. I remember being a teen-ager at our American Embassy 4th of July parties in various countries around the world, and the pride that I felt even back then, for being an American, but also feeling homesick on the 4th of July, as we were so far away from home at the time.

Yet it also made me recognize how lucky I was to be able to be celebrating America’s independence, and is a value that I would never take for granted, even to this day. It was also not lost on me, growing up and attending those Embassy 4th of July parties as a teen-ager, that many of the men that made up the Continental Army in 1777, were teenagers themselves.

Here in Westfield in 1777, the Battle of the Short Hills was fought almost 246 years ago to the day, a day when British forces occupied Westfield, plundering and pillaging our town and looting at least 92 houses in Westfield, as well as British forces stealing farm animals around our town. It would be another five years before New Jersey was finally left alone by the Crown Forces. 

One value that I believe has been passed down from those brave Westfielders so long ago, is the idea to persevere, to appreciate every day that we have here in Westfield, and that freedom does not come without courage. Just as Westfielders in this very neighborhood fought for independence, we can be so appreciative today and every day that they were willing to take up arms and fight for our freedom those 246 years ago. 

During this 4th of July weekend, we celebrate and have fun with our family and friends which is wonderful, but we must also remember to look after our neighbors, our veterans, our military families, and those Westfielders serving our country currently, like cadet Dylan Ferraro, who is spending his Fourth of July training in an Air Assault class for 10 days, at West Point where he attends school…or Korean War veteran, Wally Lawrence Brown, who was the grand marshal of our recent Memorial Day parade. 

Westfielders have a proud history of defending our freedom, so let’s please give a hand to those currently serving in the military and to those veterans for whom we will always be so grateful.

I’ll end on a quote that former President Obama said back in 2010: “Let us resolve, as citizens, to carry on the improbable experiment that began more than 200 years ago: not simply declaring our principles, but living them here at home; not simply celebrating our Union, but always working to perfect it.” 

Thank you! Happy Independence Day!

Emily Root


Westfield First Ward Councilwoman