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Little Bits of Trivia for the 4th of July

Having celebrated Independence Day this past weekend, as many of us flew our flags, had our picnics, visited with family and friends, and watched fireworks, I thought I would share 10 “fast facts,” relating to the Fourth of July you might not know (courtesy of thefw.com):

1.  America’s First Continental Congress actually declared their independence from British Monarchy on July 2, 1776, but the Declaration was published in newspapers on July 4th, thus the date July 4th was adopted as Independence Day.

2.  It took an entire month to get all 56 delegates signatures on the Declaration. In fact, John Hancock, was the first and only signer on July 4th.

3.  John Adams, in letters to his wife, stated that July 2nd would become the most memorable date in the history of America.

4.  John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826 – five hours apart.

5.  Greenery??  Fourth of July celebrations these days are filled with fireworks, clothes and ornaments covered in red, white and blue. Such colors weren’t widely available for decoration in the shadow of the nation’s birth, especially in the heat of battle during the Revolutionary War. The first few Independence Day celebrations used greenery as decorations instead.  They also fired artillery used in battles following the completion of the war for the Fourth of July, but the practice dissipated as the cannons fell apart over time and were slowly replaced with fireworks.

6.  The hot dog, a Fourth of July favorite, has an unknown definitive origin; that’s because there are several variations of its birth. For instance, a New York Evening Journal cartoonist claimed at the turn of the 20th century that a vendor at a New York Giants game created the tasty treat on the spot and dubbed them “red hots.” He drew a cartoon of the moment as a dachshund sitting in a long bun and used “hot dog” instead because he couldn’t spell dachshund. Another historian claims that a frankfurter vendor in New Jersey nicknamed his sausages “hot dogs” and earned himself the nickname in the process, causing the name to stick to the food for years to come.

7.  The phrase “as American as apple pie” has made this dessert a staple at patriotic holidays and other celebrations; however, the truth is that apple pie had its roots embedded in other cultures long before America came along and joined the world. All but one breed of apples are indigenous to America and were brought to the states by European settlers who brought not only the fruit but the recipe with them.

8.  There are many stories claiming the origin of the hamburger. Louis Lassen of New Haven, CT, earned the honor of serving the first ground beef sandwich on white bread after a customer needed a quick and filling hot lunch. Charles Nagreen of Seymour, Wisconsin also earned the honor of being the first to serve the hamburger at a local fair after trying to make his trademark meatballs easier to eat and carry around the fairgrounds. These are just two of a number of national legends trying to take credit for the first burger.

9.  The song “God Bless America” stayed on Irving Berlin’s rejection pile for 20 years! Irving Berlin gave his adopted nation one of its greatest and most iconic songs, but it didn’t see the light of day because he didn’t deem it worthy of being sung. Irving Berlin was drafted into the military in the early 1900s and helped to draft a musical comedy for his fellow troops in which he composed the song for its final number — a tune inspired by a phrase his Russian mother would often utter after escaping to America from underneath the iron fist of the bloody Russian empire. However, the composer didn’t think it would fit in the show and kept it in his file for 20 years until singer Kate Smith wanted a patriotic song to sing on the radio as war broke out across Europe. The song became one of the most requested patriotic ditties almost overnight and a staple in American songbooks.

10.  The modern “50 star flag” has an interesting story behind its creation. A high school student, Robert G. Heft of Lancaster, Ohio was assigned to create a new “national banner” for America that would recognize the statehood of Alaska and Hawaii. Heft simply added two extra stars to the flag to give it an even 50 and stitched his own design. His teacher only gave him a “B-minus” for his effort, so he sent his project to President Dwight D. Eisenhower for consideration and a change of grade. Eisenhower chose his design personally and the new flag was officially adopted in 1960. His teacher then gave him an “A” instead.

student writing letter