What is it that you are most looking forward to this Independence Day? The fireworks? The grilling parties celebrated with friends and families? Maybe some of our historians enjoy recanting the story of our great Nation, the struggles and the tribulations? No matter your preferred form of celebration, I think we can all agree that it is a day to be remembered and enjoyed! One of the activities I enjoy the most, dear reader, is to gather friends and family for the ever important game night. And, what game night would be complete without Trivia? In this article, you will find some interesting facts surrounding our Independence Day that will definitely give you the advantage if and when a trial of trivia is mentioned at your next group gathering!
1) We didn’t actually declare Independence on the 4th of July
One of the greatest misconceptions surrounding the 4th of July lies squarely in the name and the date. It is widely believed that America declared her Independence from Britain on July 4, 1776. However, the official vote actually took place two days before and the “Declaration” was published in local papers on July 4th.
2) The Designer of our current Flag lived in Lancaster, Ohio
In 1958 a history teacher in Lancaster, Ohio assigned a class project to redesign the National Flag as Alaska and Hawaii sere nearing statehood. Robert G. Heft, 16 at the time, submitted his flag design for which he earned a B-minus grade in his class. Rejected, he challenged his teacher’s grade and decided to send his flag design to President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington D.C.
According to Mr. Heft’s obituary, he was one of thousands to submit a redesign for our National Flag, but stood out from the pack as he was the only person to submit a stitched-together flag. Once his flag design was accepted, it officially became our Flag in 1960.
… Heft’s teacher would change his grade to an “A” as well.
3) There ACTUALLY is something written on the back of the Declaration of Independence
… and no, it isn’t a map to an exorbitant amount of treasure written in invisible ink.
According to specialists with the History Channel, the simple message written is actually upside-down and reads, “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776.” It is widely believed among the academic community that this inscription was written during the Revolutionary War when parchment was frequently rolled up for transport. As to who put ink to paper to write this message, it’s still up for scrutiny and debate with no one knowing who really wrote the short message.
4) Fireworks. An American tradition spanning generations
Firework displays literally date back all the way to the very first anniversary of 1777. At this time in history, John Adams famously wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail, in which he stated his desire to celebrate Independence day with pomp, parade, shows, and “illuminations”. When drafted, John Adams was under the impression that our Independence Day was to be celebrated on July 2nd.
5) We certainly still love our fireworks
Speaking of fireworks; according to the American Pyrotechnics Association, it is estimated that Americans spend more than $1 billion on fireworks each year. Out of this, we find that only 10% of firework displays are created by professional teams, which probably accounts for an estimated 12,900 firework-related injuries and emergency room visits on July 4th across the country. According to Fortune Magazine, 70% of those injuries are experienced by men…
6) Americans will grill and enjoy over 150 million hot dogs on July 4th
According to a study by the National Sausage and Hot Dog Council (yes, they exist), Americans are expected to consume roughly 150 million hot dogs over the course of the July 4th holiday weekend. This makes up but a small part of the more than 7 billion hot dogs consumed in America between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
7) We had a small start
Although an official national census wasn’t completed until the Fall of 1790, it is estimated that there were roughly 2.5 million people living in America when the Declaration was signed in 1776. As of January 1, 2022 our National Census calculated there to be over 332 million of us living in America now!
8) Wearing Old Glory violates the U.S. Flag Code
How many of us own a t-shirt, beach towel, hat or a pair of shorts that is representative of our United States Flag? Probably most of us, and companies continue to push out all kinds of memorabilia and articles of clothing depicting our great Flag year-over-year. Turns out that pretty much all of us are in direct violation of the U.S. Flag Code.
The U.S. Flag Code states that you are in violation if you sell and/or display any “article of merchandise . . . upon which shall have been printed, painted, attached, or otherwise placed a representation of [the flag… in order to] advertise, call attention to, decorate, mark, or distinguish the article or substance on which so placed.”
Good news though, in this case the U.S. Flag Code is not enforceable, so we are safe from the Flag Police.
9) The 50th Anniversary was… bizarre. The 94th Anniversary was a little more exciting
On the 50th Anniversary of Independence Day, 4 July 1826, both Thomas Jefferson (82) and John Adams (90) died within just 5 hours of each other.
On the 94th Anniversary in 1870, we as a Nation adopted and deemed July 4th as the recognized date we would forever celebrate our Independence, nearly 100 years after the Nation as we know it was founded.
10) The Average age of the signers was 45
Thomas Lynch Jr. and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina were the youngest of the 56 signers at the age of only 26. Benjamin Franklin was by far the eldest at the ripe age of 70.
However you choose to celebrate the birth of our great Nation, remember that even though it marks a day that we should all enjoy, we also must come together as a Nation and remember where we came from, how we got here, and where we are going. Happy Independence Day!