There are lots of things we expect on the Fourth: fireworks, friends, family. There are things we love (sparklers, Roman candles, cold beer) and things we despise (sauerkraut, ambrosia, Lee Greenwood… all right, haters… this was from a friend. Direct all your spittle-filled anger elsewhere).
Here are a few unexpected things about the Fourth you can share tomorrow, if only to divert mom’s attention away from Uncle Collin while he takes the youngest kids ’round back to set off three packs of taped-together Blackcat firecrackers…
10. No Rush to Get “God Bless America” to the People
Famed American composer Irving Berlin gave his adopted nation one of its greatest and most iconic songs but it didn’t see the light of day because its author didn’t deem it worthy of being sung. Berlin was drafted into the military in the early 1900s and helped to draft a musical comedy for his fellow troops in which he composed the song for its final number — a tune inspired by a phrase his Russian mother would often utter after escaping to America from underneath the iron fist of the bloody Russian empire. However, the composer didn’t think it would fit in the show and kept it in his file for 20 years until singer Kate Smith wanted a patriotic song to sing on the radio as war broke out across Europe. The song became one of the most requested patriotic ditties almost overnight and a staple in American songbooks. (Source)
9. Ehhhh… We’ll Get To It. We’re… Busy.
July 4th was not declared a federal holiday until 1941. Most federal holidays are observed on a Monday but despite the temptation of a Guaranteed Long Weekend, that pesky date made lawmakers leave it be. (Source)
8. A “B-” for the High School Student Who Designed the Modern Flag
High school student Robert G. Heft of Lancaster, Ohio was assigned to create a new “national banner” for America that would recognize the statehood of Alaska and Hawaii. Heft simply added two extra stars to the flag to give it an even 50 and stitched his own design. His teacher only gave him a “B-minus” for his effort, so he sent his project to President Dwight D. Eisenhower for consideration and a change of grade. Eisenhower chose his design personally and the new flag was officially adopted in 1960. His teacher then gave him an “A” instead. (Source)
7. Baseball Greatness on the Fourth
Dave Righetti of the NY Yankees pitched a no-hitter on July 4, 1983. Two years later, on July 4, 1985, the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets went 19 innings and ended close to 4 AM. The Mets won 16-13. (Source)
6. Nathan’s Fourth of July Hotdog Eating Contest
How is this even a thing? Competitive NAPPING, now that’s something I can get behind. Anyway, this tradition began in 1972 when “four immigrants held a hot dog eating contest at Nathan’s Famous stand on Coney Island to settle an argument about who was the most patriotic.” Why? ‘MURRICA. That’s why.
5. What’s More American Than Apple Pie? Not… apple pie.
The phrase “as American as apple pie” has made the dessert treat a staple of any patriotic holiday or celebration. The truth is that apple pie had its roots embedded in other cultures long before America came along and joined the world. All but one breed of apples aren’t indigenous to American soil and came to the States by way of early European settlers who brought the fruit and the original pie recipe with them. (Source)
4. A Good Day to Die
John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe all died on the fourth of July. Adams, the second president, and Jefferson, the third president, both died on the same day in 1826.
3. A Good Day to be Born
America’s thirtieth president, Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was born on July 4, 1872.
2. Burn, Baby, Burn! Fireworks Trivia:
- 190 million pounds of fireworks are sold in America each year.
- 8 million dollars in damage is incurred annually by fireworks in America.
- $40,000 is the average cost in dollars of a 20-minute professional pyrotechnic display.
- 10,000 Americans are injured by fireworks accidents each year.
- Sparklers burn at a toasty 1,200 degrees. (Source)
1. July 2nd! Wooooooooooooooooooot….?
Perhaps the greatest misconception of this American holiday lies in the name and its equally iconic date. The true “Independence Day” depends on your definition of when such an official declaration was indeed truly official. It’s widely believed that America’s first Continental Congress declared their independence from the British monarchy on July 4th, 1776. However, the official vote actually took place two days before and the “Declaration” was published in the newspapers on July 4th. (Source)