As citizens of the United States of America, we have so many freedoms to be thankful for. We are free to live where we want, work where we want, go to school where we want, say what we want, worship where we want, vote how we want and so much more it is difficult to even think of all the freedoms we enjoy. You wonder what the founding fathers would think of the USA today.
We all have different ways we observe the Fourth. There are family picnics, fairs, carnivals or festivals, car shows, charity races, concerts, parades, baseball games, political ceremonies and, last but not least, there must be fireworks. The common thread for all these events is community the community of family, friends and neighbors.
We found some interesting facts on the Internet about the history of the Fourth of July. Here are a few of them:
- July 4th, 1776 commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, declaring independence from Great Britain. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia. The Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author, was finally approved on July 4th.
- One of the most enduring myths about Independence Day is that the members of Congress signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Most delegates actually signed the Declaration on August 2, 1776.
- John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only two men who signed the Declaration of Independence to become president, died on the same day: July 4, 1826.
- In 1777 13 gunshots were fired, once at morning and again as evening fell, on July 4 in Bristol, Rhode Island.
- Held since 1875, the Bristol parade is the oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States.
- In 1778 General George Washington marked July 4 with a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute.
- In 1781 the Massachusetts General Court became the first state legislature to recognize July 4 as a state celebration.
- In 1791 the first recorded use of the name “Independence Day” occurred.
- In 1870 the U.S. Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees.
- Since 1916 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City, supposedly started as a way to settle a dispute among four immigrants as to who was the most patriotic.
- In 1938 Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday.
- A salute of one gun for each state in the United States, called a “salute to the union,” is fired on Independence Day at noon by any capable military base.
- The Boston Pops Orchestra has hosted a music and fireworks show over the Charles River Esplanade called the “Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular” annually since 1973. The event has been broadcast nationally since 2003.
- On the Capitol lawn in Washington, D.C., “A Capitol Fourth,” a free concert, precedes the fireworks and attracts over half a million people annually.
- Since 1959 the International Freedom Festival is jointly held in Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario, as a mutual celebration of Independence Day and Canada Day (July 1). It culminates in a large fireworks display over the Detroit River.
- In 2009 New York City had the largest fireworks display in the country, with over 22 tons of pyrotechnics exploded.
Take a minute to stop and wonder what kind of life we might have in the USA in 2010 had our politicians in 1776 not voted for independence!
Happy Fourth of July!