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Independence Day facts worthy of celebration on July 4th

June 20, 2016

We learned about Independence Day during our schooling, and we celebrate it every Fourth of July. The celebration part comes easily, but the facts about this important day fade from memory for many of us who were schooled on the subject long ago.

What better time to refresh our memories and reconfirm that importance of this holiday than on the cusp of July 4th, the day we honor our independence as a sovereign nation. Let us remember…

  • The Declaration of Independence, signed in 1776, was meant to justify a revolt against the British, with a list of charges against King George of Great British.
  • The main problem is that the colonists were angry they were being taxed by the British government, and they had no vote or voice in the decisions that affected them.
  • The Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 men representing the 13 colonies. The moment the declaration was signed it marked the beginning of all-out war against the British.
  • The first signature on the Declaration of Independence was John Hancock’s. The myth is that he wrote his name large so that Kind George would be able to read it without his glasses.
  • Several countries used the Declaration of Independence as a beacon in their own struggles for freedom. Among them are France, Greece, Poland, Russia and many Latin American countries.
  • Three U.S. presidents actually died on July 4. Two of them passed away within hours of each other on July 4, 1826 — John Adams and Thomas Jefferson — and the other, James Monroe, died July 4, 1831.
  • In 1870 the Congress made the 4th of July an unpaid holiday for federal employees. In 1941, Congress declared 4th of July a paid federal holiday.
  • The first public Fourth of July event at the White House occurred in 1804. The first Independence Day celebration west of the Mississippi occurred at Independence Creek and was celebrated by Lewis and Clark in 1805.
  • “Yankee Doodle,” one of many patriotic songs in the United States, was originally sung prior to the revolution by British military officers, who mocked the unorganized and buckskin-wearing “Yankees” with whom they fought during the French and Indian War.
  • The “Star Spangled Banner” wasn’t written until Francis Scott Key wrote a poem stemming from observations in 1814, when the British relentlessly attacked Baltimore’s Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. It was later put to music, though not decreed the official national anthem of the United States until President Herbert Hoover signed the bill on March 4, 1931, officially adopting “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem of the United States of America.

And our nation has blossomed since we declared independence 240 years ago. The U.S. population in 1776 was about 2.5 million, and today the nation’s population stands at about nearly 325 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Today, the Fourth of July is a day of picnics, patriotic parades, concerts and fireworks display — as well as a reason to fly the American flag.

Local residents and our guests can take in a Fourth of July parade in Danville, enjoy free concerts in San Ramon, see fireworks in Livermore, attend a speech in Pleasanton or enjoy the day at the Alameda County Fair. More detailed information can be found by clicking here.

Written by Mike Consol