Interesting Facts & Things You Didn’t Know About July Fourth
July Fourth is the ultimate summer holiday. School is out. Vacation season is underway. As a military family, we spent several Independence Days waiting for delivery of our household goods or unpacking boxes. We were usually invited to a gathering by our new neighbors, so we paused with the unpacking and used it as an opportunity to meet other families in the neighborhood.
My most memorable Fourth of July was 2009. My husband, at the time an active-duty Marine, was leaving for a year-long deployment to Afghanistan. My parents and sister’s family had come to spend the weekend with us and say goodbye to my husband. We had plans to barbecue and take the family to Arlington to watch the Washington D.C. fireworks, a very typical Independence Day observance. What we hadn’t counted on was my Dad having a heart attack and landing in the hospital.
It all worked out in the end. But there were a few stressful days we had to get through. My Dad spent six days in the hospital, but nine years later, he is still with us and quite healthy. My husband deployed for that year and while it was a tough deployment, he made it home, so no complaints here.
Our July Fourth celebration this year is expected to be spent around the pool with something cooking on the grill. But while most people think we commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, we actually celebrate the adoption of the Declaration, not the signing. There are quite a few interesting facts most of us don’t know about this summer holiday.
Things You Didn’t Know About July Fourth
- On July 4, 1776 only two people had signed the document, John Hancock and Charles Thomson, the secretary of Congress. Most others whose signatures are on the official document signed nearly a month later on August 2.
- The first state to recognize July 4 as a holiday was Massachusetts in 1781.
- The day did not become an official federal holiday until nearly 100 years later in 1870.
- Bristol, Rhode Island hosts what they call "America's Oldest Fourth of July Celebration." They’ve been celebrating July 4 since 1785.
- The United States is not the only country to celebrate July 4. Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and surprise, surprise England also mark the occasion.
On This Date
- Two major players in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S.’s second president John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the country’s third president, both died on the 50th anniversary of Independence Day in 1826. James Monroe, the fifth U.S. president, died on July 4, 1831.
- The only U.S. President ever born on July 4 was the 30th president, Calvin Coolidge.
- The cornerstone for Freedom Tower in New York city was symbolically placed on July 4th, 2004.
- The Statue of Liberty's crown reopened to the public in 2009, after being closed for eight years due to security concerns following the September 11 attacks.
- July 4 is a memorable day in professional baseball history. An emotional Lou Gehrig gave his farewell speech to Yankee fans. Pitchers Nolan Ryan (1980) and Phil Neikro (1983) both reached 3000 strikeouts on July 4. Yankee Dave Righetti threw a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1983.
- In addition to beach visits and barbecues, the Fourth of July weekend is huge for movie-goers. Spider-Man 2 had the largest haul, earning $125.5 million during the 2004 holiday weekend.
Independence Day By the Numbers
- The shortest Fourth of July parade takes place in Aptos, California. The parade featuring antique cars, decorative floats and walkers is just slightly over a half mile long.
- The Alameda, California parade boasts having the longest parade at 3.3 miles, with 160 floats, and more than 2500 participants.
- An estimated 150 million hot dogs will be eaten on the Fourth of July, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. And 68.3 million cases of beer sold over the July 4 weekend will help wash $92 million in chips and $167.5 million in watermelon down.
- According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, over the past five years, an average of 118.4 people died each Independence Day, making it the day of the year with the most fatal car crashes.
For most of us, July 4 kickoffs off our summer. Hotdogs, watermelon, apple pie and fireworks! Whether you attend A Capitol Fourth on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, Boston Harborfest 2018, New Orleans’ Go 4th on the River with dueling barges and a unique NOLA fireworks show on the Mississippi River or watch fireworks from the U.S.S. Midway flight deck during San Diego’s annual Big Bay Boom, enjoy this mid-summer holiday and all that comes with it.
By Carla Olivo
A veteran News Journalist and Military Spouse, Carla Olivo currently serves as the Director of Strategic Communications at PCSgrades, a website where the military and veteran community help each other with the biggest relocation needs through trusted reviews. She previously served as the Director of Communications for Operation Hug-A-Hero and as the Media/Community Relations Officer for the Delaware Department of Transportation. She is a Society of Professional Journalists award winner and has garnered numerous TV industry awards including the Associated Press award for Spot News Reporting, News Writing, Enterprise Reporting, and Documentary Reporting.