Share some good history reminders and fun facts about why we celebrate the 4th. Let’s make sure kids know why and see it as much more than a great outdoor BBQ … and of course we all love that too! There are a myriad of ways Americans commonly choose to celebrate this holiday – from family-friendly festivals, fireworks and parades to feasting on traditional foods like hot dogs and barbecue. Feel free to share of few of these background tidbits.
The Fourth of July marks our country’s birthday. On this day in 1776, the members of the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, adopting the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming our sovereignty from Great Britain.
Why did this holiday come about? The American colonists had been upset with British rule for a long time — most famously because the British government taxed them without giving them any sort of democratic representation. That conflict escalated into open fighting between colonial militias and the British army at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, in April 1775. It was another year before the shadow government formed by the colonies — called the Continental Congress — decided that the colonies and Britain were never, ever, ever getting back together again.
Since the 1770s, the Fourth of July has grown from a commemoration of America’s independence from Great Britain to a general celebration of America as a country — a day for Americans to show their national pride and patriotism.
Here are 20 interesting things you may or may not already know about the 4th of July.
1. Initially adopted by Congress on July 2, 1776, the revised version of the Declaration of Independence was not adopted until two days later.
2. The oldest, continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States is the 4th of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island; it began in 1785.
3. The Declaration of Independence was penned by Thomas Jefferson and signed by 56 men representing 13 colonies.
4. One of the United States’ patriotic songs, “Yankee Doodle” was originally sung by British military officers prior to the Revolution as a means to mock the disorganized American colonists who fought alongside them during the French and Indian Wars.
5. France, Greece, Poland, Russia and several countries in South America used the Declaration of Independence as a beacon in their own struggles for freedom.
6. The “Star Spangled Banner” was written by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812 and not decreed the official national anthem of the United States until 1931.
7. Three U.S. Presidents, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, died on July 4th; Adams and Jefferson died within hours of each other in 1826 while Monroe died in 1831.
8. In July 1776, the estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation was 2.5 million. According to the U.S. and World Population Clock, the nation’s estimated population in July 2013 will be 316.2 million.
9. The Pennsylvania Evening Post was the first newspaper to print the Declaration of Independence.
10. Both the Philippines and Rwanda celebrate July 4th as a day of liberation. In Southeast Asia, it is known as “Republic Day” and Rwandans celebrate “Liberation Day.”
11. The country’s 30th president, Calvin Coolidge, was born on Independence Day in 1872.
12. Americans consume about 155 million hot dogs on Independence Day alone; it is the biggest hot dog holiday of the year.
13. In 1870 Congress made Independence Day an official unpaid holiday; in 1938, it was changed to a paid federal holiday.
14. Americans began observing the Fourth of July as early as 1777, when the first-ever major celebration in Philadelphia included a parade and a thirteen-shot cannon salute and fireworks.
15. To avoid cracking it, the Liberty Bell has not been rung since 1846. To mark the quintessential day, every fourth of July it is symbolically tapped 13 times.
16. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson are responsible for the bald eagle as the national bird; Benjamin Franklin wanted it to be the turkey.
17. Eight of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were born in Britain.
18. The American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) estimates that more than 14,000 professional firework displays light up the skies in the United States each 4th of July.
19. Two of our nation’s great national symbols were made overseas. The Liberty Bell was cast in England, and the Statue of Liberty in France.
20. The average age of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence was 45. Benjamin Franklin was the oldest at age 70, and Edward Rutledge was the youngest at age 26.
Enjoy your 4th of July celebration and remember a few other safety tips. Keep kids and pets safe around fireworks. Be mindful of your neighbors who are sensitive to the loud noises and veterans with PTSD whom fireworks may trigger anxiety. Check the Unified Fire Department website for other safety tips and to see what areas of the county and your neighborhood might have restrictions. Be aware of rules and regulations in your area as fines can be very steep. And we all know how many fires are burning in our state so please be aware of that there are many high grasses and trees that are so dry that it won’t take much to ignite them with fireworks. Be safe out there! #youthslco