As we celebrate freedom today, remember to thank a veteran
The Fourth of July is celebrated as the birthday of our fine nation – the day the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, which led to our eventual independence.
And much has changed since then.
For example, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in July of 1776, there were an estimated 2.5 million people living here. Now, that number stands at 316.2 million.
And the U.S. is now filled with patriotic place names. In fact, 59 places contain the word “liberty” in the name, with Pennsylvania leading the charge with 11.
There's even a Patriot – nestled in Indiana. “Union” gets a lot of action too – in fact, it's used in place names 136 times, followed by Washington (127), Franklin (118), Jackson (96) and Lincoln (95), according to the Census Bureau.
But despite our love for the U.S., the Fourth of July wasn't declared a national holiday until 1941, although the first official Fourth of July party was celebrated at the White House in 1801.
Here are some other interesting facts to ponder as we celebrate our nation's independence.
• Presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe all died on the Fourth of July – Adams and Jefferson on the same days within hours of each other.
• Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, the oldest was Benjamin Franklin at 70, while the youngest was Edward Rutledge of South Carolina at 26.
• The song “Yankee Doodle” was first sung by British officers in an attempt to make fun of Americans.
• The Liberty Bell was rung not on July 4, 1776, but on July 8, 1776, to celebrate the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.
• More than 14,000 Fourth of July fireworks displays will explode across the U.S. today, involving 12,000 pounds of black powder.
As we stop today to celebrate our nation's birthday, don't forget to thank our veteran and active-duty sservice members, who have sacrificed much to protect our freedoms. Without their dedication and service throughout our history, our nation would not be the one we know and love today.
Happy birthday, America.
To learn more about the Fourth of July, visit Britannica.com and History.com.