“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” – Elmer Davis
Independence Day is a celebration of the birth of United States of America and honors the U.S. Army’s commitment to defend the nation since 1775. Independence Day will be officially observed on Sunday, July 4, 2021, our nation’s 245th birthday.
On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence from England, an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States. On that day, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2nd “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.”
Although the vote for independence took place on the 2nd, it wasn’t until July 4th that Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, largely written by Thomas Jefferson. From then on, July 4th became the day celebrated as the birth of American independence.
According to History.com, John Adams so strongly believed that July 2nd was the correct date on which to celebrate the birth of American independence, he reportedly turned down invitations to appear at July 4th events in protest.
But he was correct in his premonition of how this holiday would be celebrated by future generations. Independence Day celebrations typically include barbecues, picnics, parades, baseball games – and a whole lot of fireworks.
Here are some more fun facts about the Fourth of July:
- The Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 men from 13 colonies.
- John Hancock was the first signer and famously had the largest signature.
- The oldest signer, at age 70, was Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania.
- The youngest signer, at age 26, was Edward Rutledge of South Carolina.
- The only two signers of the Declaration of Independence who later served as President of the United States were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
- In an odd twist of fate, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826—the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
- Only John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. All the others signed later.
- The Declaration of Independence was revised 86 times.
- The first Independence Day celebration took place in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776. This was also the day that the Declaration of Independence was first read in public after people were summoned by the ringing of the Liberty Bell.
- In July 1776 there were an estimated 2.5 million people living in the Colonial United States.
- The U.S. population of in the 13 colonies was 2.5 million in 1776. It is more than 130 times larger today at 330 million.
- Every 4th of July the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is tapped (not actually rung) thirteen times in honor of the original thirteen colonies.
- The original copy of the Declaration is housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and July 4 has been designated a national holiday to commemorate the day the United States.
- The only county named Independence is in Arkansas
Salute to America
This 4th of July, the U.S. military will provide aerial, musical and ceremonial support to the celebration in Washington, D.C. There will be flyovers of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, as well an aerial salute to several cities that played roles in the American Revolution including Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.
Each Independence Day serves as a reminder of how the Army meets the defense needs of the nation. Our military members continue to carry the same patriotism and ideals of the Founders with them as they serve with bravery.
While many events have been canceled due to the pandemic, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the 4th. Attending a neighborhood Fourth of July parade, hosting a barbecue with family and friends, and finding a good fireworks show can help us get into a patriotic mood, remind us of what it means to be an American and feel a sense of camaraderie with our community. Celebrate America and continue to honor and respect the country our service members fight to defend.
In whatever way you choose to celebrate Independence Day, we wish you a holiday filled with peace and patriotism!