Norwich - On the second day of events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the governor and federal and state representatives hailed the city for its heritage, history and culture.
During a luncheon Friday afternoon to celebrate Native Heritage Day, state Rep. Melissa Riley, D-Norwich, called Norwich "truly a crown jewel" and the "most unique city in the state."
The city on Thursday kicked off a weekend of events to celebrate President Abraham Lincoln's Jan. 1, 1863, signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared slaves in southern states free. The celebration included the casting of the Norwich freedom bell.
"The casting and the commemoration celebrate our diversity and recognizes our history. I can't think of a better way to celebrate this event," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.
Gail Adams, head of the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior, was visiting Connecticut for the first time Friday. She was assigned to facilitate cultural and heritage tourism in concert with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the end of slavery in America.
A Louisiana native, Adams said that the Amistad, which is docked in the city's marina, is central to the story of America. The effort by Norwich to mark the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation along with the presence of the Amistad is just the beginning of a "really small part of this big thing going on not only in our nation, but internationally," she said.
"You all are a shining star in our country's history, and because the Civil War is one of the single events that helped define our history and our nation, you all as a state were poised to help," Adams said. "We want to help you share your story with the world and the millions of Americans who have yet to experience all that you have to offer."