Rhode Island) – 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.
"Double Vision" – Not only did John Adams and Thomas
Jefferson sign the Declaration of Independence, they 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'
last words were, "Thomas Jefferson still survives." But it wasn't true. His
archrival beat him to the punch, dying 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 were members of, "The
Founding Fathers." What are the odds?
"A Proud Tradition" – There were parades galore across the United States
on Thursday, but which is the granddaddy of them all? Bristol,
Rhode Island held its 228th Fourth
of July Celebration, the longest running tradition in the United States. I
was proud to be one of the announcers for the broadcast on WLNE-TV ABC6 in Providence. What an honor,
and what a parade!
"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 to actually 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 of 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" was 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 celebrating birthdays on July 4th
are our 30th President Calvin Coolidge, and First Daughter Malia
"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!