WE ARE HOMETOWN NEWS.

So many early mornings, at dawn and even before, I’ve had the opportunity to be in Springfield’s Court Square for live television interviews, usually on politics, campaigns or issues of government.

In between interviews, I’ve always reflected on my surroundings there. In that place, in that city square extraordinaire, so much history is represented. The very beginning. The very survival, the soul of our nation and of all our people.

Standing there, waiting for the next live shot, looking up at the moon lowering in the sky. It hits me. Like it does every time.

Old First Church. Part of the Underground Railroad. Where President John Quincy Adams lay in state, en route home. On the site where early white settlers and Black people in their different times prayed.

Springfield City Hall. Not the original edifice, but the one where Sen. John F. Kennedy, on the eve of his election as president of the United States, stood with his supporters from Western Massachusetts, en route home to Hyannis. My aunt Antonetta DeAngelis saw him. I remember her telling me years later of how surprised she was by how red his hair was. She had only seen black and white images of him before.

The same City Hall steps that other presidents chose to speak to this region and a nation from. William Jefferson Clinton spoke here in 1996. I was involved in that visit. A stunningly cold night, and yet 40,000 people attended. Clinton requested a boxed dinner from the famed Student Prince Restaurant. Picknelly’s Monarch Place roof read “Hi Bill!” I’m told they saw it coming in on Air Force One.

Looking down on this place is General George Washington’s armory. General Knox, and the man who would become our first president, chose that hill for the nation’s first armory. It served from before the United States being such, through the Civil War, two World Wars, through Korea and Vietnam.

Seventy thousand people assembled at the armory to hear Franklin Roosevelt on Oct. 30, 1940. I can just imagine the ghosts of that place, Revolution to Civil War, listening to FDR.

Parson’s Tavern stood in Court Square. President George Washington really did sleep there on Oct. 21, 1789. It is said that he likely tipped mug or two. Northampton’s Calvin Coolidge would sit in this Square, before he became president. He most likely would not have tipped a glass.

President Teddy Roosevelt regaled an enthralled 50,000 people in Court Square. President Harry Truman energized 30,000 people just a block away on Dwight Street.

I can see President McKinley’s stunning memorial statue from where I wait. He came here on June 21,1899, by riverboat. His visit included an address in Court Square. “Mc’K” was somewhat the Elvis of his time and some reports accounted for “young women swooning at his flourishing words.”

Taft, Johnson, Polk and Pierce all visited here, too. Ronald Reagan spoke at the Civic Center that borders this square.

I look across the square at the three-story red brick building, in more recent times well-known as the law offices of Anthony Ravosa Sr. It was George Ashman’s office a century before. Speaker of the Massachusetts House and then congressman. An actual friend of Abraham Lincoln, he presided over the 1860 GOP convention that nominated Lincoln. And he was a pallbearer at Lincoln’s funeral. Ravosa patriotically displayed a beautiful life-size portrait of Lincoln in his office.

Lincoln. How surreal that two blocks away, at the old theater where Irish immigrant Tilly Haynes had his tavern, where Lebanese immigrant Nadim Kashouh has his restaurant now, an actor named John Wilkes Booth once took the stage.

Others could write volumes — and have — about this square area and beyond. And so much more could be said about the entire valley’s historical places and people from Fredrick Douglas to Sojourner Truth, King Phillip to the native people who were here first.

But as we approach the nation’s birthday this July 4th, as so many come to Springfield that night to watch the region’s largest fireworks celebration, look around. America, its here, beneath, beside and above.

A square. But the center of so much.

Anthony L. Cignoli is the president of Anthony L. Cignoli Associates, Inc. & The A. L. Cignoli Company. He is a political consultant and public and media relations consultant for candidates, public officials, companies and charitable organizations throughout America. The opinions expressed within the article are that of the author’s and do not represent the opinions and beliefs of the paper.