Pennsylvania is 'keystone' to America's 250th birthday celebration
Feb. 25—WILKES-BARRE — U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright said on July 4, 2026, the United States will celebrate its 250th anniversary.
"And I can't think of a better state to lead the celebrations than Pennsylvania," said Cartwright, D-Moosic.
Cartwright was speaking at Friday night's America250PA NEPA Launch Event Friday evening at PNC Field.
"Pennsylvania's history is integral to the story of the founding and success of our great nation," Cartwright said. "We are lucky to live in such a dynamic and diverse state, and I am grateful to every person who is working to uplift the stories, people and places that have impacted of our nation's past and highlight how Pennsylvania will contribute to her future."
America250PA held its largest launch event to date, with more than 300 in attendance at PNC Field.
Attendees included U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, former Gov. Mark Schweiker, Treasurer Stacy Garrity, U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, Sen. Rosemary Brown, Sen. Marty Flynn, Rep. Jim Haddock, Rep. Aaron Kaufer, Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, and Rep. Alec Ryncavage.
Cassandra Coleman, executive director of AmericaPA250, is a former mayor of Exeter Borough.
Coleman said the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Commission will plan and coordinate all of the programs, projects and events around the 250th anniversary of the United States in 2026.
Coleman said she feels her background as a local elected official allowed her to approach laying the groundwork of this Commission differently.
"We wanted to grow this organically, from the ground up, as we all know how important it is to ensure that local communities are part of this initiative," Coleman said.
She said she reached out to local municipal leaders, county leaders and local community organizations and visited with them to hear about what they wanted to see through this milestone anniversary and also to learn about their communities.
"Nothing beats the pride of a local leader showing off their Main Street, their historic site, their schools," Coleman said. "I was there, I know. You want a voice, and I want to be sure that these amazing communities across all 67 counties of this Commonwealth have a voice and are part of this initiative."
Regarding her home area, Coleman said the NEPA community once again has outdone itself.
"This event is the largest of any event we have held statewide, thus far," Coleman said. "Personally, this community — our community — has been there for me for the last 15 years. They continued to support and rally for me and when I had the honor of taking on this new role and this new challenge, that was no different. It was this community that I went to first, for support, and they stepped up — they stepped up when America250PA was nothing more than a piece of legislation."
Coleman said in the beginning she had grand ideas, but no developed programs or projects yet, and again, the generosity here didn't waiver.
"They believed in the ideas, because I believed in the ideas and now, America250PA has over a dozen impactful programs and projects that will be launching in all 67 counties across this Commonwealth. NEPA is a special place and I will be forever grateful to each and every person here who recognized the potential of America250PA and believed, like I did, that this could be, and should be something special."
Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Dallas, said Pennsylvania's story is at the heart of this occasion.
"It's where our Founding Fathers declared independence in Philadelphia and where President Abraham Lincoln stood on a Gettysburg battlefield to reiterate the proposition foundational to our nation that all are created equal," Meuser said. "The efforts of America250PA bring together our 67 counties to note each one's special place in history."
Meuser said this anniversary is a time to reflect on the great accomplishments that have achieved as a nation and all we seek to accomplish in the years to come.
"It's a time to share with our own unique Pennsylvania story with those who will carry it into the future," Meuser said.
Former Gov. Mark Schweiker, America250PA Honorary Co-Chair, said, "As a Bucks County native who grew up with a love of our area's role as the birthplace of our nation, I am honored to join the important work of the America250PA Commission.
"From the earliest days of William Penn's Holy Experiment to the Great Experiment born from our Founding Fathers at Independence Hall, Pennsylvania is an all too fitting place to celebrate our great nation's Semiquincentennial."
Schweiker also received a gift from Lizzie Breznay, 22, of Plains Township, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around.
Lizzie presented Schweiker with hot pads and potholders that she handcrafted in Schweiker's favorite colors. Lizzie is one of the Host Sponsors for America250PA.
Lizzie was accompanied by her parents, Brian and Helene Breznay, her aunt Jeanine Wolczyk, and her friend, Brenda Banaszek.
"Lizzie, you are a remarkable young lady," Schweiker said.
Lizzie is also serving as the 2023 Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month Ambassador.
Sen. Casey, D-Scranton, recovering from recent surgery, said he wouldn't have missed the NEPA launch of America250PA.
"We can long catalog what the people of northeastern and central Pennsylvania contributed alone in those 250 years not just to the founding, but to the perpetuation of our democracy through wars and so much else that we had to fight through," Casey said.
The Pennsylvania Commission (America250PA) was established by the legislature and governor in 2018 to plan, encourage, develop and coordinate the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States, Pennsylvania's integral role in that event, and the impact of its people on the nation's past, present, and future.
America250PA is made up of 24 voting Commissioners, who were appointed in a bipartisan manner by the Pennsylvania House and Senate, along with the governor. In another show of bipartisanship, the previous five Pennsylvania governors serve as honorary co-chairs for the Commission.
Thus far, 40 counties and over 250 municipalities have adopted the America250PA resolution.
To learn more about America250PA's efforts or find ways to get involved, visit: www.America250PA.org.
Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township: "When the United States of America was founded, no one knew if this great experiment in representative democracy would last for a decade. 250 years was beyond imagination.
To endure and thrive for so long, as a much larger, more livable, and more diverse nation, is an incredible testament to the Founding Fathers and Mothers, who in combination achieved and implemented a framework for freedom and governance unforeseen and unsurpassed.
Pennsylvania was then, and ever since has been, a Keystone State politically and intellectually, embracing educational, economic, cultural, social, religious, and environmental leadership.
The upcoming 250th anniversary celebration allows us to remember the people, places, and events that constituted our worthy past, appreciate the profound strengths of democracy wisely practiced, give thanks for our abundant natural resources, make amends for our errors in judgment and policy, and recommit to equitable and enlightened principles and practices necessary for a brighter future."
Rep. Jim Haddock, D-Pittston Township: "It is exciting to have one of the seven launch events in the State being in my Home District of the 118th held right here in Moosic to represent the Northeast part of the State.
Our area has played a major role in the history, culture and economic development our our Country.
We are proud to help prepare the State of Pennsylvania to celebrate our country's 250th Birthday."
Rep. Alec Ryncavage, R-Plymouth: "The bicentennial celebrations in 1976 brought Americans together to commemorate our nation's history and achievements. From parades and fireworks to cultural festivals and exhibits, communities across the country celebrated with pride and patriotism.
As we approach America's 250th birthday, it is crucial that we continue to honor and preserve our nation's history.
With America250PA, we have an opportunity to build on the legacy of the bicentennial and to inspire a new generation of Americans to work towards a brighter future. Let us celebrate our nation's past achievements, acknowledge the work that remains to be done, and come together to build a better future for all Americans.
Pennsylvania's contribution to our nation's history and culture cannot be overstated, and it is our responsibility to honor and celebrate this legacy as we look towards the future."
Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre
"Some people say that America is a great experiment, I say America is a complete success because we are the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth. Yes, we had many challenges, tragedies and victories to address in order for America to reach this great milestone in our history; But just as in life, each day will bring us new challenges to address and new opportunities to utilize and adapt for future demands.
Like our Forefathers, We must meet those demands to preserve and strengthen our nation for our children and grandchildren. We must never forget all those who worked tirelessly, suffered and died to protect and preserve our democracy, our freedoms, our Constitution and the Rule of Law.
We must continue to demonstrate the courage and determination of our forefathers so we will preserve our great country's ideals and principles and continue as the worlds shining example of freedom of, by and for the people.
America 250 PA is the perfect celebration to bring all of us together for the good of all. So, let's get excited, lets get involved and let's make America250PA something we all can be proud of and never forget."
Eric Esoda, NEPIRC's President and CEO
"I applaud Ms Coleman for putting this kickoff event together — the largest of its kind to date — and look forward to remaining involved to tell the story of how our region's manufacturing strength contributed to the formation and resiliency of our nation and how the industry will continue to drive us forward for years to come.
Pennsylvania and northeastern Pennsylvania in particular , played an essential role in founding, forging and forwarding our nation. From the insight of our Founding Fathers to the output of the industrial revolution to the innovation of today's advanced industries, Pennsylvania has a lot to celebrate as we join our nation in preparing for its 250th year anniversary."
Reach Bill O'Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.