Fourth of July

Independence Day is a different holiday in a lot of special ways

Happy Fourth of July and how about a Hump Day Holiday? (Wednesday, Over-the-Midweek-Hump) When’s the last time you can remember one of those?

It fits. Independence Day is one of those different holidays. We celebrate it nationally, sure, but also on a community and family, “human” scale. It just fits so nicely.

It lends itself to many of those “did you knows?” Like:

• Three of the first five U. S. presidents died on July 4th, Adams and Jefferson in 1826 and Monroe in 1831.

• One president, Calvin Coolidge, was born July 4th.

• On July 4, 1850, President Zachary Taylor attended ceremonies for the Washington Memorial, then returned to the White House and ate a bowl of cherries and milk. He became sick to his stomach, dying five days later.

• All 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence didn’t do so at the same time. The last, Thomas McKean of Delaware had a good excuse. He was a colonel in George Washington’s army and was called away to battle in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. McKean signed the document, probably in 1777.

• The Liberty Bell was rung for the first time four days after the declaration was adopted, July 8, 1776, summoning the citizens of Philadelphia to its first public reading.

• There are 11 U.S. towns named Independence and 30 named Liberty. The largest of each are in Missouri and they are adjacent, with the Missouri River separating them.

• July Fourth was once the most dangerous of American holidays. Why? Fireworks frightened horses bigtime and a frightened horse in a crowd was not a recipe for safety in an era when horses were used for work and transportation.

• New York abstained from the July 2 vote which passed the Declaration because the Empire State’s delegates didn’t receive instructions from the state assembly until the next week. New York delegates did sign, however.—M.B.

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2012-07-05 digital edition

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