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Wayne’s Words: Fourth of July and the signing of the Declaration of Independence

Wayne Horne | 7/1/2021, 6 a.m.
This Fourth of July weekend will be the first three-day holiday that all of the official restrictions have been lifted ...

Wayne Horne

Wayne Horne

This Fourth of July weekend will be the first three-day holiday that all of the official restrictions have been lifted since the pandemic began more than 16 months ago. Longer than that actually if you were among those taking the warnings seriously when the first alerts sounded. Fact is, those warnings are still with us due to the COVID-19 variants. For those who are vaccinated the risk has been lessened but not eliminated. For the 46 percent that have been fully vaccinated, family gatherings for the traditional Fourth of July celebrations will most likely be able to proceed with lessened caution.

There are still some impediments to the celebrations with fireworks. According to Business Insider, fireworks are in short supply due to the supply chain crisis. Americans spend about $1 billion a year on fireworks. It’s illegal to purchase or possess most types of fireworks in Illinois, but drive through any neighborhood the week before or after July 4th and it’s obvious many do not observe the legality.

However, if you’re a baseball fan, the Slammers are having displays after each of the three games being played at the city-owned ball park this weekend. That’s great for the Slammers organization because that’s when they have their best attendance numbers for the games. You probably can also have a reasonable view of the colorful displays just outside of the ballpark. Another option for fireworks fans is the City of Joliet fireworks display that will be held at the Joliet Junior College campus on July 4th at 9:15 PM.

The Fourth of July celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The day celebrated as Independence Day is fixed on the Fourth of July, but like many historical events it’s an arbitrary date. The date represents the signing of the Declaration of Independence but in fact only two people signed the document on July 4th. The two signers were John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the other signers did not actually sign the document until August 2, 1776.

The actual Constitution of the United States of America that is the law of the land today was not adopted until 12 years later on May 27, 1789. There have been 27 amendments added since then. The last addition to the U.S. Constitution, Amendment XXVII, was originally proposed in 1789 and deals with Congressional pay raises. It was ratified on May 7, 1992. And you thought today’s Congress moved slowly.

There are some other proposed amendments that never made it into the document. For instance, in 1876 an attempt was made to abolish the U.S. Senate. It’s a sure bet Senator Mitch McConnel would not be open to that idea today. In 1893 an amendment was suggested to abolish the Army and the Navy. Citizen militia, maybe? In 1916, it was proposed that acts of war had to be voted on before war was declared. Anyone voting yes had to register to volunteer for the Army. A similar attempt was made in 1936. The proposals failed.

Did you know that approximately 155 million hotdogs are consumed on the Fourth of July holiday? It’s the most consumed food item on July 4. Coincidentally, that’s about the number of people who have received the COVID-19 vaccination and are fully vaccinated. There were an estimated 2.5 million people living in the colonies in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed. Today there are more than 332 million people in America according to the current census numbers.

John Adams wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail, that he wanted Independence Day to be celebrated with pomp, parade, shows, and "Illuminations." This original letter was written when Adams presumed that Independence Day would be celebrated on July 2. Actually, July 4th wasn’t even declared a national holiday until 1941.

Enjoy the weekend! Stay tuned…

Comments welcome at wayneswords@thetimesweekly.com