National Holiday: Hail freedom on Independence Day

WEDNESDAY, JULY 4: Wave the flag high and celebrate the day America became a nation. It’s Independence Day!
From everyone here at ReadTheSpirit, we wish you a happy Fourth of July—remembering, of course, that it was on this day in 1776 that Americans declared their freedom. The core value of freedom extended through hammering out the Constitution, Bill of Rights and two centuries of struggle to let freedom truly ring for people of all faiths and backgrounds.

Want to read a real-life story of that epic struggle?
First Lady Michelle Obama just addressed the national conference of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and recalled the story of the African-American quest for civil rights and religious freedom. We’ve got her entire talk.


Despite common myth, the Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed on July 4; rather, the Second Continental Congress approved the document on this date. Some famous figures helped to spread the well-intentioned story that the document was, indeed, inked on July 4—but historians believe it probably was signed weeks later.

Here’s another newer myth we can debunk: There’s no secret writing on the back of the document as millions of moviegoers were told by Nicolas Cage in “National Treasure.” However, there is something written on the back of the Declaration of Independence. Don’t get too excited, though—the only words written are “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776.” Historians figure the words were inscribed so that the document, when rolled up for travel, could be easily identified. Learn about more myths at National Geographic.

The actual separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred two days prior to July 4—on July 2. That’s when formal action was taken approving independence.
John Adams famously wrote to his wife, Abigail:
“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. … by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.” (Wikipedia has details. Or, check out Of course, Adams’s prediction of the long-term legacy was off by a couple of days—but he was prophetic in his vision of future joyous commemorations.

Photo in public domainIf you’re worried that your Fourth of July spread will be lacking, look no further than Food Network or AllRecipes for full Independence Day menus. Kids can decorate the house with patriotic crafts or dish up red, white and blue desserts, with help from FamilyFun. If a formal party is your style, Martha Stewart has a plethora of recipes, décor ideas and more for the Fourth. Once the sun sets, sit back for some fireworks—even if you won’t be attending a live show. (If you are seeing a live fireworks show, check out National Geographic’s tips on photographing the nighttime blasts.) At home, check out the Boston Pops Orchestra’s music and fireworks show over the Charles River, broadcasted nationally on CBS.

Hungry for more? Here are a few extra July 4th facts:

• In 1776, the new nation had 2.5 million residents

• Today, America boasts 313.9 million residents

• Approximately $232.3 million in fireworks was imported from China in 2011—representing the majority of U.S. fireworks

(Get more stats at

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