(Charleston, West Virginia) – It is the long Fourth of July weekend, so we we’ll dispense with the serious politics today. Instead, we’ll share some fun facts and trivia about our country’s birthday and heritage. I first published this on July 4, 2013, and it's one of my most popular columns! Enjoy!
“Double Vision” – Not only did both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson sign the Declaration of Independence, they both also later became President of the United States. But the most interesting coincidence they shared is that they both died within hours of each other on July 4th, 1826. The two were bitter rivals, who did not like each other at all. Legend has it that Adams's last words were, “Thomas Jefferson still survives.” But it wasn’t true. His archrival beat him to the punch, having died five hours before Adams.
“Three's a Crowd?” – Oddly enough, Adams and Jefferson were not the only Presidents to die on the 4th of July. James Monroe, our nation’s fifth President, died on July 4, 1831. So the second, third, and fifth Presidents all died on the 4th, and all are counted among our "Founding Fathers.” What are the odds?
“Happy 2nd of July!” – In truth, the Declaration of Independence was actually approved on July 2, 1776, but was not published in the newspaper until July 4. John Adams still wanted all the celebrations on the 2nd, but was overruled.
“A Signature Moment” – Everyone knows John Hancock’s famous bold signature. In truth, he was the first and only one actually to sign the document on July 4th. It took another month to collect the signatures of the other 56 people who approved it.
“Around the Globe” – July 4th is not just a tradition in the U.S. People have celebrated it, in one way or another, on every continent. In 1934, American explorer Richard Byrd and his crew set off fireworks in Antarctica, even though it was 34 degrees below zero!
“Paint the Town Green!” – For many of the early years, red, white and blue were not the tradition. Colored fabric was rare and expensive in the early days of our nation, so there weren’t many flags. Instead people used greenery to decorate their homes and towns in celebration.
“Happy Birthday, America, and…” – The nation may celebrate its birthday on the Fourth of July, but also born on July 4th were our 30th President, Calvin Coolidge, and today's "First Daughter," Malia Obama.
“God Bless…Kate Smith?” – Famed songwriter Irving Berlin wrote “God Bless America” for a play he was scoring in 1918, but the tune was dropped from the production. It sat on his shelf collecting dust for the next 20 years. In 1938, singer Kate Smith asked Berlin if he had any patriotic songs she could sing for Armistice Day (now Veterans Day). Berlin handed her “God Bless America! The rest, they say, is history!
As always, I welcome your thoughts! Click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.
© 2013, 2016, MarkCurtisMedia, LLC.