The Real Independence Day?
The Declaration of Independence was announced on July 4th, though the formal signing didn’t occur until August 2nd, and the colonies actually voted to accept it on July 2nd. So you may wonder – what day is the real Independence Day?
John Adams, who first proposed the idea of declaring independence from England, wrote a famous letter to his wife, Abigail, about how he believed July 2nd would be a day that was remembered and celebrated in America for years to come. Apparently everyone else remembered otherwise…
Did you know, that there have been 28 versions of the U.S flag to date, and that the most recent one, designed after Alaska and Hawaii joined the union, was the result of a school project? Robert Heft was 17 when he came up with the flag design in 1958. He originally got a B- on the project, but when his pattern won the national competition to become the next flag, his teacher raised his grade to an A.
A Patriotic Death?
Three American presidents have died on the fourth of July. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on the same day, in 1826. They had been rivals in everything, even about who would live longest. Adams’ last words were about his long-time foe: “Thomas Jefferson lives!” In fact, Jefferson had died just five hours earlier, but Adams hadn’t gotten the message. James Monroe is the third president to die on July 4th, but he died in 1831.
And the Rockets’ Red Glare…
Fireworks and parades have long-since been a staple in Independence Day celebrations. In that same letter of John Adams about celebrating on July 2nd, he wrote that the day
“Ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” And so colonists celebrated the fourth even before they knew if they would win the war, setting off fireworks July 4th, 1777. Fireworks were further popularized in the late 1700s by politicians that had displays at their speeches, and they became a firmly established tradition by the 1800s.
It is also said, that fireworks displays were used as morale boosters for soldiers in the Revolutionary war. At the time however, fireworks were the same type of explosives used in war and were called rockets, not fireworks.