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Wayne's Words: Celebrating the 4th of July

Wayne Horne – wayne@thetimesweekly.com | 7/1/2017, 12:17 p.m.
The Fourth of July this year could be considered a four-day weekend for some, since it falls on a Tuesday. ...

The Fourth of July this year could be considered a four-day weekend for some, since it falls on a Tuesday. Most people won’t get the Monday before the holiday off, but it probably won’t be the most productive day of the year either. Besides a day to eat hot dogs and watch fireworks, the following are some holiday tidbits to think about.

Since 1870, July Fourth has been the official Federal holiday celebrating the Declaration of Independence. July Fourth is the day depicted in history when all the founding fathers gathered to sign the document sent to Britain declaring that we were a free and independent people destined to set a new course for the future. It wasn’t really that simple, but in this day and age facts don’t always describe what truly happened.

According to one source, other countries have also embraced our Declaration of Independence as a guiding light in pursuit of their own freedom and independence. One of those countries is Russia. Must be why they like us. At any rate, the Declaration of Independence was only a step in the formation of the United States of America. The average age of those who signed it was 45. Seven of the signers were Harvard educated. The youngest signer was Thomas Lynch, 27, of South Carolina and the oldest, Benjamin Franklin, was 70.

We celebrate the Fourth of July by flying the flag and with professional fireworks displays. According to most sources, more than 80 percent of the U.S. flags are imported from China and so are 97 percent of the fireworks we blow up. There have been 27 different official U.S. Flags since 1777. The current U.S. Flag became official in 1960. Approximately 65 percent of Americans own a U.S. flag. The cost of a municipal fireworks display can be $30,000 or more. More than 800 people are injured by fireworks each year, many are children.

Prior to 1954 the words “under God” were not a part of the Pledge of Allegiance. Then President Dwight Eisenhower urged Congress to add the words. They did. The pledge reads: "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Notice no hesitation is indicated following the word ‘Nation.’

In 1776 there were only 2.5 million people living in the 13 colonies prior to becoming the United States of America. Today, the population is more than 325 million. We have a net gain of one person every 13 seconds, according to the U.S. census population clock. That’s about 6,600 people a day. Included in the population gain is one international immigrant every 32 seconds. (Yes, you can find the clock with a Google search).

Approximately 44 million people will travel by automobile more than 50 miles from home over the Fourth of July weekend. There are more than 400 people killed in car crashes each year over the same weekend. More than one third will involve an intoxicated driver.

This will be the first Fourth of July in Joliet’s history that all of the City’s municipal flag pavilions will display the Flag 24/7 with the proper illumination. There are 11 of the pavilions. When you pass by one, remember this is still the best place in the world to call home. Have a happy holiday and be safe.

Stay tuned…