5 things you didn’t know about the Fourth of July
Article Published by: nydailynews.com
Fun fact: Many Americans don’t know some basic facts about their country. Polls have revealed that only 45% of Americans knew what the initials in GOP stood for, 25% of Americans couldn’t identify the country from which we gained independence from, and a majority of Americans couldn’t name more than one protection guaranteed in the first Amendment of the Constitution.
With the explosive success of the “Hamilton” musical, those who have seen it have internalized info about the American Revolution. But if it’s been a while since AP U.S. History, here are five fun facts about Independence Day worth brushing up on.
1. Independence Day is really longer than a day
July 4 is the day we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but not all 56 eventual signers signed that day. There is actually quite the dispute about who signed the document and when. Some say it was the 4th of July, 1776 — when John Hancock affixed his big, loopy signature. This copy was then sent to the printers, where 200 copies were made. A few others signed the original a few days later, perhaps on July 8th, the day it was read aloud in public for the first time. But most members of the Second Continental Congress did not sign until August 2 — so maybe we should just celebrate Independence Month.
2. A freaky coincidence marked the 50th anniversary
Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who drafted the Declaration of Independence, died exactly 50 years after it was signed — on July 4th, 1826. As legend has it, Adams’ last words were, “Jefferson still survives.” But he’d already died five hours earlier.
3. Why red, white and blue?
Most people are aware what the stars and stripes represent on the American flag (the 50 states and original 13 colonies, respectively), but why red, white and blue? The common story is that the colors represent purity and innocence (white), hardiness and valor (red), and vigilance, perseverance and justice (blue). But that was actually the reasoning the creator of the Great Seal of the United States gave for including the flag in the stamp that wasn’t used until 1782. The colors of the flag, however, may simply have been chosen because it was designed after the British Union Jack. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
4. What do fireworks have to do with independence?
Fireworks on Independence Day is a tradition dating back to 1777, the first anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. John Adams wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail, that he wanted Independence Day to be celebrated with pomp, parade, shows, and “Illuminations”, hence the splashy show we put on. The day in the letter to which Adams is referring, however, was not July 4, but rather July 2 — the day the Declaration was voted upon by delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies.
5. Two other countries celebrate freedom on July 4
There are two other countries that celebrate July 4 as a day of independence or freedom. In the Philippines, this day is Republic Day — not the Southeast Asian country’s independence from Spain — but their independence from the U.S.! The Philippines were a U.S. territory until 1946.
And over in Rwanda, July 4 is Liberation Day, when the country ended the awful Rwandan Genocide in 1994 after 100 days of conflict.
About Scott Livengood
Scott Livengood is the owner and CEO of Dewey’s Bakery, Inc., a commercial wholesale bakery with a respected national brand of ultra premium cookies and crackers.
Previously, Scott worked at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts for 27 years, starting as a trainee in 1977. He was appointed President of the company in 1992, then CEO and Chairman of the Board.
Scott has served on numerous boards including the Carter Center, the Calloway School of Business and the Babcock School of Management, Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, and the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.
He started a new business, StoryWork International, in 2016 with Richard Stone. The signature achievement to date is LivingStories, a story-based program for improved patient experiences and outcomes in partnership with Novant Health.