Fourth of July rail
What can we say about the Fourth of July?
July 4, with its Independence Day designation, has been around for 232 years. Stuff has happened on that date, not the least of which is the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Without that happening, we might be drinking tea and eating fish and chips for our Fourth of July barbecues.
The first words
“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ...”
-- The beginning of the Declaration of Independence
About the writers
“The task of writing a declaration of independence was assigned to a committee of five, consisting of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston, with Jefferson the principal author. Jefferson rarely took the floor in Congress. He was more comfortable working alone or in committees. Adams, on the other hand, was in his element in open debate, lashing out at opponents with quick eloquence. Jefferson would not rise to defend so much as a comma in his document. That task he left to Adams.
“... (Jefferson) ... wrote 1,817 words; Congress made 68 changes, killing 480 words and leaving the final version at 1,337 words.” (Source: “The People’s Almanac” by David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace, as reprinted at www.trivia-library.com.)
About the signatures
The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence did not sign on July 4, which was the date when the Declaration was approved by the Continental Congress. Nor did they sign together. The official signing took place Aug. 2, and on that date, 50 men signed the document.
The youngest signer was Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, who was 26. The oldest signer was Franklin, who was 70. The longest surviving signer was Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Md., who was 95 when he died in 1832.
Survival certainly was a concern of those approving the Declaration. In fact, announcement of the names of the signers were withheld from the public for more than six months. The reason, presumably, was that treason thing.
It is as Franklin is said to have put it after he placed his name on the document:
“We must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
A little more trivia
Jefferson and Adams both died on July 4, 1826.
OK, we lied a few lines ago.
Technically, July 4 has been around for more than two centuries as “the big day” in U.S. history. But the holiday wasn’t celebrated until July 8 in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was read aloud in Philadelphia.
The first Fourth of July event at the White House didn’t occur until 1804.
And Congress didn’t declare the Fourth of July a federal legal holiday until 1941.
Patriotic with pride
The U.S. Census Bureau notes that there are 31 places in the United States with “Liberty” in their name. There are 31 places named “Eagle” in some manner.
Twelve places have “Independence” in their names, and nine places adopted the name “Freedom.” There is only one Patriot.
About the barbecue
According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, 150 million hot dogs will be consumed by Americans on the Fourth of July.
The Census Bureau reports that 74 million Americans said they have taken part in a barbecue in the past year – we’d assume a lot of them on Independence Day.
Fourth of July menu
The foods most frequently mentioned at the Yahoo Answers’ Web site when answering the question “What kind of food do you serve at a Fourth of July party?”
2. Hot dogs
3. Potato salad
4. Macaroni salad
5. Baked beans
6. Potato chips
8. Corn on the cob
9. Salad desserts
Some food facts
According to History.com:
-- There is a 49 percent chance that the beans on an American plate for a Fourth of July picnic came from North Dakota or Michigan.
-- There is a 60 percent chance that the corn on the cob eaten by an American for a Fourth of July picnic came from California, Florida, Georgia or New York.
-- One-half of the potatoes made for chips or salad at Independence Day cookouts were grown in Idaho or Washington.
Movies for the Fourth
Here are a handful of films to watch if it rains on your Fourth of July picnic or parade.
-- “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942) -- James Cagney plays the Broadway songwriter and performer George M. Cohan in a flag-waving classic.
-- “1776” (1972) -- The movie version of the Broadway musical captures events leading up to the Declaration of Independence.
-- “The Patriot” (2000) -- Actor and director Mel Gibson made this film about a family during the American revolution.
-- “Independence Day” (1996) -- Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum star in a film about aliens trying to take over the world.
-- “The Stars and Stripes Forever” (1952) -- Clifton Webb portrays march composer John Philip Sousa.
The mere mention of the following songs could have you humming like a real American all Independence Day.
-- “Star Spangled Banner”
-- “America the Beautiful”
-- “God Bless America”
-- “My Country Tis of Thee”
-- “Stars and Stripes Forever”
-- “You’re a Grand Old Flag”
-- “Yankee Doodle Dandy”
These are some lyrics from Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.” You may need them if you go to a baseball game where they sing it.
“God bless America, land that I love,
“Stand beside her, and guide her,
“Through the night, with the light from above,
“From the mountains, to the prairies
“To the oceans, white with foam.
“God bless America, my home sweet home,
“God bless America! My home sweet home!”
The Fourth on TV
NBC will mark Independence Day with its annual broadcast of Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular, which features what is billed as the nation’s largest fireworks display. The hourlong special airs at 9 p.m. EDT. At 10 p.m., CBS will broadcast the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular.
Contact Gary Brown at (330) 580-8303 or email@example.com.