This, That and Other Stuff

American flag

American flag

Bob Neuman

Throughout the year, there are several times when we stop and honor past and present military and our founding fathers. Examples are Veterans Day, Presidents Day, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day on July 4 of each year.

Perhaps it has been a long time since we have opened a history book, but 241 years ago, a remarkable event occurred. The 13 American colonies declared their freedom from England while in the midst of the Revolutionary War.

U.S. troops engaged: 217,000; American battle deaths: 4,435

The 13 American colonies fought for independence from British rule.

Britain forced them to pay taxes, yet did not give them any representation in the British Parliament.

The first shots rang out on the morning of April 19, 1775, in Lexington, Massachusetts.

At the Battle of Bunker Hill, Colonial Officer William Prescott ordered, “Do not fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” His troops had courage and discipline, an early sign that the rag-tag American army had a chance at defeating the well-trained, well-armed British troops.

Congress chose George Washington as commander.

The Battle of Saratoga was the first great American victory and is believed to have been the turning to triumph over Britain.

The Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, and Great Britain acknowledged America’s independence and established a northern boundary with Canada.” Wikipedia

The Declaration of Independence is a statement adopted by the Second Continental Congress that met at the Pennsylvania State House in Independence Hall on July 2, 1776. The colonies were then at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain. They formed a new nation … the United States of America. John Adams was the leader who pushed for independence, which was passed unanimously on July 4, 1776. He persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to write the original draft.

“John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, ‘The Second Day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable Epoch in the History of America.’

Interestingly, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both signers of the Declaration of Independence and presidents of the United States, died on July 4, 1826 – exactly 50 years after the adoption of the declaration. It is also important to note that Native Americans lived in the country, and each tribe had its own nation and government prior to the European settlers.

Jefferson’s original draft, complete with changes made by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, and Jefferson’s notes of changes made by Congress are preserved at the Library of Congress. The best-known version of the Declaration, a signed copy that is popularly regarded as the official document, is properly displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. This engrossed copy was ordered by Congress on July 19 and signed primarily on August 2. In 1870, Independence Day was made an unpaid holiday for federal employees. In 1941, it became a paid holiday for them.

Independence Day is a day of family celebrations with picnics and barbecues, showing a great deal of emphasis on the American tradition of political freedom. Activities associated with the day include watermelon or hotdog eating competitions and sporting events, such as baseball games, three-legged races, swimming activities and tug-of-war games.

Many people display the American flag outside their homes or buildings. Many communities arrange fireworks that are often accompanied by patriotic music. The most impressive fireworks are shown on television. Some employees use one or more of their vacation days to create a long weekend so that they can escape the heat at their favorite beach or vacation spot.” Wikipedia