WOODSTOCK - A descendant of several great-great grandfathers who fought in the Revolutionary War led a group of citizens, ministers and others on Saturday in honor of Peter Muhlenberg, one of the heroes in America's fight for independence from Great Britain.

The Rev. Larry Johnson's connection to his colonial ancestors from across the centuries took on added meaning as he delivered his remarks outside the Shenandoah County Historic Courthouse in front of the statute and bust of Muhlenberg.

Saturday's event marked the 244th anniversay of a speech given by Muhlenberg, a Lutheran/Anglican pastor, in which would end up persuading 300 men to join the American Revolution on Jan. 21, 1776.

Before the ceremony, Johnson explained why he shares Muhlenberg's story with whomever he can and the importance of remembering him.

“He delivered one of the most important speeches,” Johnson said. “His speech was important because it excited people to go to war and fight for our independence.”

Muhlenberg had been asked by Patrick Henry to form and lead a regiment in the war for independence, Johnson said.

He was quoting from Ecclesiastes when he said there was a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace. Muhlenberg is said to have then declared, “And now is a time to fight” as he pulled back his clergy robe to reveal he was wearing a military uniform underneath.

The Peter Muhlenberg commemoration ceremony is an annual event organized by various groups in which wreaths are displayed and several prayers offered. These groups hope the event will continue to get larger, Johnson said.

At the ceremony braving the cold were a handful of area residents, members of the James Wood II Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, members of other chapters of the Sons of the American Revolution, members of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Shenandoah Christian Alliance, Mt. Hebron Church, and Grace Baptist Church.

Dale Corey, of the Colonel James Woods II Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, said events like the Muhlenberg commemoration are important.

“We are trying to keep the history alive of these American heroes who established our country,” Corey said.

Contact Melissa Topey at mtopey@nvdaily.com