HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Fort Monroe celebrated the Fourth of July and the man it’s named after.
The holiday also marked the 187th anniversary of James Monroe’s death.
Historians say it’s important to remember our fifth president for the many deeds he did for our country.
“James Monroe was the guy who established the boundary between Canada and the U.S. So, James Monroe was always interesting to me,” said Mark Walsh, who is on the National Advisory Board for the James Monroe Foundation.
Walsh, who is Canadian, spoke at the fort’s flag ceremony in honor of Monroe.
Walsh talked about Monroe’s legacy, his time serving during the Revolutionary War, being an ambassador to France and England, and as president.
“When he took something on, he embraced it fully. That’s what he did with the presidency. He was fully responsible for the country and he took it fully on,” Walsh says.
Walsh says that some of the treaties and policies, like the Monroe Doctrine, still help keep other nations out of North America because of its influence.
“This is not something that was just chaff in the wind. His work was extremely important,” he said.
Monroe was not the only Founding Father to die on July 4.
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died hours apart on July 4th, 1826.
Walsh and the National Park Service say it’s important to remember Monroe, who also served as governor of Virginia, for the building of the fort to secure our borders.
“Freedom is not free. Any country in the world that has a measure of freedom knows it takes an appropriate force to secure that freedom for us. The U.S. is no different,” said Aaron Firth, a National Parks Service ranger at Fort Monroe.
Firth says Fort Monroe plays a crucial role with its ties to Native American history and African-American history. The land is both the location for where the first Africans were brought to English colonies and where slaves escaped to find refugee during the Civil War.