MONDAY, JULY 4: Happy Independence Day, America! Barbecues, fireworks, parades, ceremonies and fairs will cover the land today as Americans celebrate our Declaration of Independence. What began as a nation of 2.5 million residents in 1776 is booming now with 311.7 million citizens, most of whom will show some red, white and blue today in a bright show of patriotism.
WE’RE ALL PATRIOTIC? YES …
It’s true! Patriotism is a Core American Value that we all agree is an important part of our lives. Dr. Wayne Baker at OurValues describes the national data on patriotism—and two major roles that patriotism plays in America.
Party Planning Tips
Hosting a fancy party for the Fourth? Check out decoration & recipe ideas from Martha Stewart.
Will your barbecue be more casual? Rachael Ray offers easy recipes and fun table settings.
Got kids? Kaboose has Independence Day crafts, fun facts and recipes; FamilyFun suggests themed outdoor games and family-friendly recipes.
On July 4, 1776 … The Story Behind the Holiday
On July 4, 1776, the United States declared independence from Great Britain in the form of the Declaration of Independence. Ironically, some of the Founding Fathers believed generations forth would commemorate July 2 each year—as this was the day the legal separation of the two nations occurred. (Wikipedia has details.) Still, the legal day didn’t stop early Patriots from celebrating on July 4, too: In 1778, George Washington marked the day with a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute; John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, both ambassadors in France, held a dinner for their fellow Americans in Paris. (Get interactive with holiday help from History.com.) July 4 became an unpaid holiday for U.S. federal employees in 1870, and a paid holiday in 1938.
THE FOURTH MEANS TRAVEL … BUT HERE’S A SHOCKER!
If you’ll be doing more than singing “America the Beautiful” near your home this holiday, you’re far from alone: The first week of July is usually one of the most popular travel times in the American calendar year. (Check out campfire safety tips, boating safety tips and more from the U.S. Government.) This year, AAA is projecting an increase in air travelers by 9 percent, despite the overall decline in travelers nationwide. Gas prices have risen an average of 37 percent from last year, while air fares have increased only 10 or 11 percent. (Check out an article here.) Still, American roads will likely see about 32 million citizens taking a road trip this holiday weekend.
Minnesota shocker!! The Land of 10,000 Lakes is CLOSED FOR THE FOURTH! A political stalemate over the state’s finances has laid off thousands of workers and padlocked popular Independence Day destinations—including the Minnesota Zoo and state parks. Of course, the shut down is far worse than a holiday inconvenience. Even emergency food pantries statewide are afraid they won’t get their distribution of federal foods, because the warehouse system may be part of the government shutdown. CBS News has a story.
Minnesota tourists aren’t the only ones suffering unexpected changes in plans! Vacationers heading through Georgia just learned that wildfires have locked up the popular Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Other public lands are affected by fires, as well, this weekend.
FIREWORKS BANNED: In many communities—including the entire state of New Mexico—authorities are either banning fireworks displays or are urging residents to be extremely careful this year, considering the increased threat of fires. The Seatle PI published a story about the fireworks bans.
SILENT ON ‘STAR SPANGLED BANNER’
This may surprise you—especially considering the almost universal patriotism in America—but not everyone celebrates American freedom with war-themed songs and images. For example, religious principles prevent some pacifists—like members of traditional peace churches—from joining in the National Anthem’s war-themed lyrics as they celebrate holidays like the Fourth. Mennonite pastor Mark Schloneger just explained his reasons for not joining in the “Star Spangled Banner” in a column for the CNN Belief section.
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.