The Declaration of Independence, the American flag, the Liberty Bell, our national symbols, barbecues, and fireworks have all become a part of the July 4th celebration. Here are a few interesting facts about our national holiday.
The Declaration of Independence
The Second Continental Congress voted to approve the resolution declaring independence and the separation of the 13 colonies from Great Britain on July 2, 1776. Prior to the vote, the newly formed country needed a statement to explain its decision. A committee of five delegates, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston participated in the discussion with Thomas Jefferson writing the first and final drafts. They had 17 days to complete their work. Independence was officially declared on July 4, 1776. July 4th was declared a national holiday in 1870.
The American flag
There have been 27 designs for the American Flag. President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered our current 50 star flag on August 21, 1959. That flag was official adopted in July 1960. The Stars & Stripes, Old Glory, and the Star-Spangled Banner are all nicknames for the American flag. Our current flag consists of 13 equal horizontal red and white stripes representing the original 13 colonies. What most Americans are unfamiliar with is the blue area with its 50 five-pointed stars is called the canton and is referred to as the union. The flag should always be displayed with the union on the left. The stars represent the 50 states of the United States of America.
The Liberty Bell
Was ordered by the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly in 1752 from Lester and Pack (Whitechapel Bell Foundry) a company in London. Originally used to summon lawmakers to legislative sessions and to alert citizens about public meetings, it cracked when it was first rung. It was recast two times to attempt to repair the crack. Communication was slow and no immediate announcement was made on July 4 about the declaration. Bells were rung on July 8, 1776 to announce the reading of the Declaration of Independence.
The Eagle – our national symbol
On June 20, 1782 the bald eagle was adopted as the emblem of the United States of America. The North American bison is our national mammal. The rose is our national flower. The oak tree is our national tree. National symbols of the United States of America.
Fireworks & bonfires
The night of July 3rd was originally celebrated in the 19th and 20th centuries with large bonfires to usher in the 4th of July. In New England, many towns competed for the largest bonfire, building towering pyramids of barrels as high as 40 tiers of barrels. Nowadays, many cities, towns, and other groups present fireworks displays on or around the 4th. See our list of July 4th events.
A salute to the union
At noon on July 4th, on military bases, there is often a salute to the union. One gun is fired for each of the 50 states in the union.
Facts courtesy of Wikipedia – Independence Day.