Happy July 4th!

   Written by on July 6, 2017 at 9:37 am

logo- community news & viewsDid you watch fireworks or light sparklers for July 4th?  Did you dress in red, white and blue for the day? Did you make a red, white & blue cake for the 4th or did you eat watermelon (red), cake icing (white) and blueberries (blue) on that day?

July 4th is known for its fireworks, picnics, and lots of patriotism.  Previously called “rockets,” the term “fireworks” was not used until 1777.  This reporter wants to share little known facts for our country’s birthday.

America’s second President, John Adams, was notorious for his love of Independence Day.  He always thought, though, that the date was incorrect. Adams wrote that July 2nd, the date the Second Continental Congress voted to declare independence from Britain, not July 4th, should be the day celebrated.  July 4th was the date when John Hancock, the head of Congress, actually signed the Declaration of Independence.  At any rate, Adams wrote that this day should be celebrated with bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward, forever more!

Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson served on the committee that selected the Eagle for our national seal.  Franklin wanted the turkey!

Did you know that three of our first five Presidents actually died on July 4th? John Adams, the second President and Thomas Jefferson, the third President, were bitter rivals throughout their political careers but nearly twins in their deaths.  They died hours apart on July 4, 1826; Adams at age 90 in Massachusetts and Jefferson at age 83 in Virginia.  James Monroe, the fifth President, also died on July 4, five years after Adams and Jefferson in 1831.

After countless battles, fifteen miles of trenches and constant bombing for one month, Confederate General John Pemberton surrendered to Union forces at Vicksburg, Mississippi. That surrender on July 4, 1863 would mark a turning point in the Civil War when the scales tipped in the North’s favor. The South did not surrender for another two years.  It is interesting that the town of Vicksburg refused to celebrate July 4th for the next 81 years.

This reporter took a tour of Vicksburg a few years ago and history abounds there, much like the atmosphere of Appomattox.  It took Congress nearly 100 years to make July 4th an official holiday.  Can you believe that? Of course you can! Despite the widespread celebrations, Congress was dragging its feet!

On July 4, 1884, the United States received what may be the country’s largest physical birthday present when the French presented it with the Statue of Liberty.  It took four months to assemble the 151-foot statue which was shipped from Paris in hundreds of pieces. While the statue was intended to commemorate America’s centennial, it was not formally dedicated until ten years after the fact.

Congress officially declared July 4th a federal holiday back in 1870 but it took them nearly 70 years to give federal employees a paid day off.  July 4, 1938 was the first Independence Day that federal employees picnicked, barbequed and enjoyed fireworks without denting their paychecks!

In 1998, Congress passed a bill declaring the 21 days between Flag Day (June 14) and Independence Day as “Honor America Days,” encouraging Americans to celebrate their country for nearly a solid month.  How many Americans know this?


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