The United States of America will mark 250 years of liberty in 2026. The Keystone State already has a long history of firsts. So, it’s not surprising that Pennsylvania was the first state to partner with the national America 250 campaign. We are thrilled that the Commonwealth will be representing as the Birthplace of Freedom.
“It’s a proud thing for me that we are the first state to officially partner with the country,” Cassandra Coleman, Executive Director of America250PA, told us. “We absolutely should have a leading role in this celebration.”
The Pennsylvania Commission for the United States Semiquincentennial began in 2018 in response to the national America250 initiative. In 2019, the state amended the legislation to make the Commission and the America250PA campaign one and the same.
The Commission is building the foundation for the celebration, developing programs that incorporate as many layers of Pennsylvania as possible. College students are helping out and America250PA is also honoring our veterans. Additionally, representatives from each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties are telling the stories of their own people and how they relate to overall American story.
First on board were Pennsylvania’s governors, past and present. “We’re really excited with their involvement. It demonstrates the bipartisanship effort behind the project,” said Cassandra. Since Governor Wolf swore them in as commissioners in Sept. 2019, the governors have been communicating regularly with Cassandra and her staff and headlining some America250PA fundraisers prior to the pandemic. “They have offered assistance and want to be engaged as this unfolds over the next five years.”
Engagement is a key goal in the planning that has happened so far. Commission members were hoping that 2020 would be their year of awareness for the campaign. However, they had to step back and re-evaluate the process during the COVID-related shutdowns. “We need folks to realize that 2026 is significant and that there is an organization within the Commonwealth that is charged with showcasing Pennsylvania to the rest of the country,” Cassandra explained.
Some elements already underway include the Young Heroes Outreach Program, Veterans Flag Memorials, the County Advisory Committee, and the Service Member Spotlight.
“Cabot helped us get that launched back in 2019,” Cassandra said of the bi-weekly commemoration of nominated military personnel. “That was one of their first partnerships.” Shortly after that, Cabot made a larger commitment as one of four SemiQuin Founders, along with Wawa, Independence Blue Cross, and Mericle Real Estate Services.
“As a state commission, we are not fully funded by the state yet. We are primarily funded by private donations,” Cassandra related. “Cabot is one of those partners that stood up from the very beginning and recognized the impact that this project could have if it was done and supported in the right way.”
Cassandra has worked closely with myself and Bill. Cassandra explained, “They believe in our mission and truly want to see impact on the communities in Pennsylvania, and they see that we can do that through this initiative. Cabot is the perfect partner to help us do that, and they have been from day one.”
Needless to say, with five years yet to go before we celebrate America’s Semiquincentennial, we’ll be sharing much more with you about America250PA and our participation.
In the meantime, Cassandra is anxious to get back on the road and spread the word of America 250. She encourages readers to log on to the website, watch the launch video, and sign up for their newsletter. “We want involvement from every Pennsylvanian in all 67 counties,” she remarked. “As the programs are developed, we hope that people will become involved as we take it to their regions.”