STATESIDE STORIES: Independence Day History!

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By Mary Foran

Flag-waving and sparklers, glow-sticks and petardos, and cold fried chicken and corn-on-the-cob may not be your idea of a National Day celebration, but millions of Americans turn out for such frivolities with family and friends on Independence Day in July!

Sipping on a refreshing lemonade with plenty of ice, the summer heat is the thing to beat, and so outdoor concerts, picnics and parades, and fireworks displays make for a family-friendly and patriotic holiday for most Americans.
It’s all because of Independence Day, the Fourth of July, which is a Federal Holiday in the United States. It commemorates the Adoption of The Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. On that momentous day, the Continental Congress declared in writing that the original 13 American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were thusly no longer part of the British Empire. The actual vote by the Continental Congress took place two days earlier, on July 2nd, but some say the document was signed on the 4th by the illustrious founders.

Fourth of July at Clear Lake, Iowa

Independence Day activities include outdoor barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, parades, political speeches, and ceremonies, as well as other private and public events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the U.S.A. The festivities are topped off after the glow of sunset by evening firework displays, which are traditional, but that have often been banned by local authorities trying to avoid fatalities and forest fires.Aguafiestas, but with reason!

Independence Day is considered the National Day of the United States. Since Canada Day is the First of July, the first week of July is typically one of the busiest U.S. travel periods of the year, since many Federal and State workers make it an extended holiday, and many others take their vacations then. Since this year July 4th falls on a Wednesday, mid-week, there have been some complicated planning going on to make it a real holiday!

For those of you who plan to stay at home and watch the festivities on the television, there will be the traditional free concert on the Capitol lawn in Washington D.C., broadcast live by PBS, NPR and AFN. Local stations will have the rundown on the local fireworks displays and music festivals.

Philippine flag goes up as America’s is lowered during the Independence Day ceremonies in the former US colony on 4 July 1946. Fourth of July is now celebrated in the Philippines as Republic Day, aka Filipino-American Friendship Day

In case you didn’t know, July 4th is also The Philippines Republic Day, commemorating the day in 1946 when the country ceased to be a U.S. Territory and the U.S. officially recognized Philippine Independence. They first called it Independence Day until 1962 when the name was changed to Republic Day.

Did you know that Denmark is said to hold the largest July 4th celebration outside the U.S.A.? In fact, the whole week of July 1st through the 8th is full of celebrations that should not be missed!

For Americans abroad, July 4th is a reminder of their birthplace and their unique history.
It might just be fun to make a batch of red-white-and-blue cupcakes to share for dessert since flag-waving is not always advisable!


Featured image/turtlemom4bacon, CC BY-ND2.0
4th of July, Iowa/Amy Spreitzer Windsor, CC BY2.0 via Flickr
Philippine Independence Day ceremonies, PD
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6 JULY 2015