My favorite 4th of July memory is from many, many summers ago. I must have been almost 10 years old. We lived out in the country, in Texas, and our long drive from the road to the house was lined with Pecan trees on both sides. There were probably 20 or more Pecan trees stretching down the gravel drive. My mom's side of the family, from the Texas panhandle, were visiting us: grandma, grandpa, aunts and cousins.
I don't know whose idea it was, but I'm guessing it was my older cousins who thought it would be fun for us to put on a patriotic parade and walk from the road to the house, as if it was a parade route down a street. We all spent hours working on our costumes, scavenging the house to create them. My grandpa, a tall man, made an impressive Abe Lincoln; one cousin dressed as a clown, with face paint and all; another cousin was costumed as Uncle Sam; my brother was a soldier; and I was the Statue of Liberty; the aunts and my grandma were the spectators. Someone must have had a couple of packs of Wrigley's gum because we all tossed foil-covered sticks of gum to our "spectators" who had to keep moving up our "street" along with the parade.
What I remember most of all was the laughter. My mom's family really knows how to laugh; and we laughed and laughed then, and those of us who remain continue to laugh about the time we put on the 4th of July parade even now. It's funny what sticks out in our memories and what becomes individually symbolic of national holidays.
What IS This All About?
When Darling 1 asked me, "So, what's July 4th all about?" I decided it was time to write a post about the true meaning of this national holiday. Yes, the fireworks, parades, flags, family gatherings, the hot dog grilling, the red, white and blue banners, hats, t-shirts and more are fun, but there is a deeper meaning to the colorful, fiery explosions in the air. We all know we're celebrating much more than summer fun, but could you/have you explained the details to your kiddos?
The 4th of July is a federal holiday that commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence which declared our independence from Great Britain. Here are a few more details leading up to the adoption and signing of the Declaration of Independence:
On April 19, 1775, after getting fed up with being oppressed under British control, 70 Massachusetts militiamen armed with guns faced about 700 British soldiers on their way to Concord to destroy the colonists' weapons depot. A shot was fired, and thus began the American Revolution War.
On June 11, 1776, the Continental Congress appointed a committee to draft a declaration of independence. The committee consisted of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Livingston and Roger Sherman.
Jefferson wrote the first draft; and after Adams and Franklin made some changes, the document was ready to be presented to Congress on June 28, 1776.
On July 2, 1776, twelve of the thirteen colony delegations voted to support the resolution for independence. Only one colony did not vote in favor of this resolution; New York abstained from voting.
On July 4, 1776, the Congress formally endorsed Jefferson's Declaration of Independence.
Although Jefferson, Adams and Franklin later wrote they had signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, many historians maintain it was not signed until August 2, 1776.
It wasn't until 1782 that the American Revolution War actually ended; 6 violent years after the Declaration of Independence was adopted and signed.
A few interesting tidbits:
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were the only signers of the Declaration of Independence to later serve as President of the U.S.
Adams and Jefferson also died on the same day, July 4 1826. They both died on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
James Monroe, 5th President of the U.S., also died on July 4, 1831.
Only one president has been born on July 4; Thirtieth U.S. President, Calvin Coolidge was born July 4, 1872.
So, while this holiday is also about family, summer, baseball, barbeques and sparklers, it is also a lesson in determination and perseverance that we should be talking about more with our kids. When I was briefly discussing the Revolution War, the Civil War and the World Wars, Darling 1 said to me, "You've never told me these things before!" And it's true, history is not my forte, and I don't often discuss it with him, but I should. Have a happy and safe Independence Day! Over and out...