Happy 4th of July Everyone!
As I work at transitioning into my new lifestyle, I am ever more aware this 4th of July of the challenges faced by our forefathers when they built this country --- and of the freedoms we enjoy individually as a result of it. Their willingness to fight for what they believed in never fails to inspire me. And this year, with so many of our loved ones engaged in battles around the world, the true value of our 4th of July celebration remains bright as a new coin. Our freedom comes at a price. Others are not as fortunate. Remember that wherever our men and women serve, they pay homage to our Constitution and to the many brave souls who have died through the years in order to preserve those freedoms. Take a moment to cherish this holiday, courtesy of the U.S. Army and its public domain website. Wishing you all a safe and wonderful 4th of July with those you love.
[Members of the Old Guard Colonial Color Guard and Fife and Drum team march the colors off at the 'Let Freedom Ring' event held in Philadelphia on July 4, 2004. (photo Army News Service army.mil by Jackie Garrelts)]
How the Fourth of July was Designated as an "Official" Holiday
The United States observes no national holidays, that is, holidays mandated across all 50 states by the Federal government. The United States Congress and/or President can only legally establish an "official" holiday for its "federal" employees and the District of Columbia. States and municipalities are free to adopt holidays enjoyed by the federal government or to create their own.
This can be accomplished in several ways, either through enactment of a law issued by a state legislature or by an executive proclamation, that is, by order from a state governor. As an act of confirmation, it is possible as well that a city may enact an ordinance regarding the celebration of the Fourth of July or any other holiday. As stated in theWorld Almanac (1998, p. 315), however, "in practice, most states observe the federal legal public holiday."
The first "official" state celebration of the Fourth as recognized under resolve of a legislature occurred in Massachusetts in 1781. Boston was the first municipality (city/town) to officially designate July Fourth as a holiday, in 1783. Alexander Martin of North Carolina was the first governor to issue a state order (in 1783) for celebrating the independence of the country on the Fourth of July. In 1870 the first federal legislation was passed giving federal employees a "day off" from work, but without pay. Fourth of July Celebrations Database. (courtesy U.S. Army).
The Bald Eagle - Our National Bird
The bald eagle has been the national bird of the United States
since 1782, when it was placed with outspread wings on the Great Seal
of our country. It appears in many government institutions and on
official documents, making it the most pictured bird in all of America.
The eagle appears on the president’s flag, the mace of the House of
Representatives, military insignia, and billions of one-dollar bills.
The bald eagle first appeared as an American symbol on a Massachusetts copper cent coined in 1776. Since then it has appeared on the reverse side of many U.S. coins, notably the silver dollar, halfdollar and quarter, as well as the gold coins which were christened the eagle, half eagle, quarter eagle, and double eagle. For six years, the members of Congress held a bitter dispute over what the national emblem should be. It wasn’t until 1789 that the bald eagle was finally chosen to represent the new nation. The American Bald Eagle
[Fort Knox, Ky. "The Star Spangled Banner" (Palmer, Alfred T., photographer).]
The Flag & Our National Anthem
In 1814, about a week after the city of Washington had been badly burned, British troops moved up to the primary port at Baltimore Harbor in Maryland. Frances Scott Key visited the British fleet in the Harbor on September 13th to secure the release of Dr. William Beanes who had been captured during the Washington raid. The two were detained on the ship so as not to warn the Americans while the Royal Navy attempted to bombard Fort McHenry.
At dawn on the 14th, Key noted that the huge American flag, which now hangs in the Smithsonian's American History Museum, was still waving and had not been removed in defeat. The sight inspired him to write a poem entitled Defense of Fort McHenry; later the poem was set to music that had been previously composed for another song by a Mr. Smith.
The end result was the inspiring song now considered the national anthem of the United States of America. It was accepted as such by public demand for the next century or so, but became even more accepted as the national anthem during the World Series of Baseball in 1917 when it was sung in honor of the brave armed forces fighting in the Great War.
The World Series performance moved everyone in attendance, and after that it was repeated for every game. Finally, on March 3, 1931, the American Congress proclaimed it as the national anthem, 116 years after it was first written. Star Spangled Banner
[Photograph of fireworks going off in the night sky by the Washington Monument, during ceremonies celebrating the 175th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence., 07/04/1951. Location: Harry S. Truman Library (NLHST), 500 West U.S. Highway 24, Independence, MO 64050-1798]
We...solemnly Publish and Declare, that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States." - Declaration of Independence
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted these words, and a new nation was born. This new nation promised to secure the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for each and every one of its citizens. "In order to form a more perfect Union...and secure the blessings of liberty," for itself and its posterity, the United States of America established a government of democracy to fulfill that promise. Today, America continues to uphold its ideals and is a symbol of freedom and democracy for the entire world.
And From General Washington:
Head Quarters, New York, July 9, 1776.
* * *
The Hon. Continental Congress having been pleased to allow a Chaplain to each Regiment, with the pay of Thirty-three Dollars and one third pr month--The Colonels or commanding officers of each regiment are directed to procure Chaplains accordingly; persons of good Characters and exemplary lives--To see that all inferior officers and soldiers pay them a suitable respect and attend carefully upon religious exercises. The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger--The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavour so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.
The Hon. The Continental Congress, impelled by the dictates of duty, policy and necessity, having been pleased to dissolve the Connection which subsisted between this Country, and Great Britain, and to declare the United Colonies of North America, free and independent States: The several brigades are to be drawn up this evening on their respective Parades, at Six OClock, when the declaration of Congress, shewing the grounds and reasons of this measure, is to be read with an audible voice.
The General hopes this important Event will serve as a fresh incentive to every officer, and soldier, to act with Fidelity and Courage, as knowing that now the peace and safety of his Country depends (under God) solely on the success of our arms: And that he is now in the service of a State, possessed of sufficient power to reward his merit, and advance him to the highest Honors of a free Country. . . .
George Washington, July 9, 1776, General Orders
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!