As people celebrate Independence Day, they should remember that local volunteers are keeping American history alive all around them.
Some of the sites even were around - in some form - when the Declaration of Independence was adopted July 4, 1776.
There are many places in the local area that are significant to early U.S. history. They include, but are not limited to, Johnson Hall State Historic site in Johnstown, Old Fort Johnson and Fort Klock in St. Johnsville.
Johnson Hall is hosting a lecture series, part of marking the 250th anniversary of the hall's construction by Sir William Johnson. The grand baronial home was built by Johnson to reflect his position in the world and the success he had achieved.
Old Fort Johnson, on the north bank of the Mohawk River, is the original 1749 limestone house built by Johnson, according to the website maintained by the Montgomery County Historical Society - www.oldfortjohnson.org.
Farther west, but still near the Mohawk River, is Fort Klock. A fortified farm homestead and trading post, it was erected in 1750 by Johannes Klock. The location includes 30 acres with many reconstructed colonial buildings, including a working blacksmith's shop, a Colonial Dutch barn and a 19th-century schoolhouse.
Volunteers are critical at all of these places and making sure events happen. Whether it is the annual craft fair at Fort Klock or the Johnson Jog earlier this year, volunteers play integral parts in making sure major events are successful.
There are also ways for volunteers to help regularly at many places. For example, Old Fort Johnson - which is run by the Montgomery County Historical Society and has a Board of Trustees - noted volunteers can potentially help as tour guides, garden and grounds helpers, guest speakers or event volunteers.
The nonprofit organizations that maintain many of our historic sites - and the volunteers who work at the sites and their events - help to keep costs down, thus making their part of history accessible to a wide group of people.
There is some economic benefit to all of this. With the way the state is pushing tourism, such sites are important in showing the rich history of our area.
Of course, the most important part is the history itself; it helps unite us and reminds us of how far we have come.
We are lucky to have so many people and organizations seeking to keep history alive for all of us.