As we wrap up this holiday weekend, from my family to yours, I hope that you have enjoyed your July 4th holiday. May you continue to enjoy the summer season here in the United States. -Carole Copeland Thomas
My daughter and son in law came yesterday from Connecticut for the July 4th Holiday and to give their children big hugs after a one week absence. My son in law showed off his handy skills. He repaired my leaky refrigerator, changed the burned out batteries on my squeaky smoke detectors, and gave me advice on other household projects. We combined a cookout with an inflatable pool party for the grandkids and danced around the house with our American flags. My daughters, Michelle and Lorna, used their skills to help our production flow like magic. Love this holiday. Love my family! God Bless America!!
Here are TEN Things You Might Not Know About July 4th:
1. On this day in 1826, former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who were fellow Patriots, die on the same day within five hours of each other. They were founders of America who were friends, adversaries and friends again in the end. On July 4, 1826, at the age of 90, Adams lay on his deathbed while the country celebrated Independence Day. His last words were Thomas Jefferson still survives. He was mistaken: Jefferson had died five hours earlier at Monticello at the age of 82.
2. Only two people actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th: John Hancock and Charles Thomson, secretary of Congress. Most of the others signed on August 2nd.
3. One US president, Calvin Coolidge, was born on July 4. So were Nathaniel Hawthorne, Neil Simon, George Steinbrenner, and Malia Obama (President Obama’s older daughter).
4. July 4th wasn't deemed a federal holiday until 1870, nearly 100 years after the nation was founded.
5. Fireworks have been a major part of Fourth of July since the earliest celebrations. In 1884, miners blew up the post office in Swan, Colorado, because it wasn't supplied with fireworks.
6. Other countries — including Denmark, England, Norway, Portugal and Sweden — celebrate the Fourth of July because many of their citizens moved to the US or simply to attract American tourists.
7. Four Star General Benjamin O. Davis, the first African American to become an Air Force General, died at age 89 on July 4, 2002. He was the fourth African American to graduate from West Point. He led the Tuskegee Air Men. His father, Benjamin O. Davis. Sr. was the first African American Army General. He trained at Tuskegee at the same time with my own father.
8. The July 4, 2016 holiday kicks off the 200th Anniversary of the incorporation of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). A mural of founding Bishop Richard Allen was unveiled today in Philadelphia, and his statue was unveiled yesterday. More than 20,000 will attend the 50th General Conference of the AME Church in Philadelphia from July 6th through July 13th. I will be in that mix in the next few days. That’s my denomination.
9. The seeds of the Civil War actually started before the country was actually formed. The Declaration of Independence was adopted on this day. And a section denouncing the slave trade was deleted.
10. On July 4, 1960 the 50-star U.S. flag made its debut in Philadelphia.
Photo Collage From Left To Right:
Top: George Washington, First US President and Revolutionary War General, Eleanor Roosevelt, Womens' and Civil Rights Advocate and Wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt , Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President Abraham Lincoln,
Bottom: Abagail and John Adams--John Adams was the 2nd US President and NEVER OWNED SLAVES, President Barack Obama.
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You just have to look at the sudden change of leadership in Egypt after their first democratically held election to understand why freedom matters throughout the world. Or why countless people are dying in the streets of Syria and Afghanistan to comprehend the complexity of the struggle for freedom.
As a seventh generation American whose roots go back to slavery in the South, I don't take my freedom for granted and know the steep price paid to keep this country "free." We are FAR from perfect and have sooooo much to correct. We have complex diversity and multicultural dynamics to assess and implement throughout the 50 states and its territories. And issues of class and economic disparities and voting rights are center stage in our fight for equality and fairness.
Despite the inequities, America is still a leading world power where liberty is valued and appreciated. We will salute the men and women past and present who paved the way to build the American society, and look at ways where we can get better in this never ending struggle to maintain "freedom for all."
July Fourth History:
Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the National Day of the United States.
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Play John Philip Sousa's Stars & Stripes Below...
I love the Fourth of July, Parades, and The Stars and Strips Forever.
Yes you can be a card carrying diversity professional like I am and still show patriotism and love of country. Through the blood, sweat, and tears of our ancestors, Black, White, Brown, Asian, and Native American, on July 4th the United States of America can suspend its conflict, and strife long enough to celebrate its freedom. The freedom to stand on a street corner and berate Congress for not helping to improve the economy without fear of being arrested and killed. The freedom to call a public official "stupid" when indeed that may be the case. The freedom to form a new group to stop corporate greed and corruption without fear of disappearing in the heat of the night. The freedom to march down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC for any cause, any protest, any campaign without being thrown in jail never to be heard of again.
That is the America I love. We are far from perfect... but we have surely come a long way.
And I love American Patriots like our second US President, John Adams. Not Thomas Jefferson whose pubic profile is much bigger than Adams. I LOVE John Adams, and do you know why??? Because he never owned slaves and forbid his loving wife, Abigail, from bringing them to his home when they married in 1764
Abigail’s father had owned slaves, but she became a champion of freedom by not owning them as a married woman. In fact she helped a young free Black obtain an education in Braintree, Massachusetts when neighbors wanted to keep the young man ignorant.
John Adams vs. Thomas Jefferson
Abigail and John Adams never owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson owned slaves and fathered several slave children with his mistress Sally Hemings.
Both Adams and Jefferson were signers of the Declaration of Independence. Both were freedom fighters. Both were US Presidents. And both died on July 4, 1826.
But my favorite will remain John Adams because he did not own slaves.
My Own Family's American Heritage
I feel that strongly about Adams vs Jefferson because my own family roots go back to their era. As a proud member of the Gaines Family of Georgia, my family can trace its heritage back to the mid to late 1700s, to Louise and William Gaines who were born in the 1780s, married and had 14 children. Their slave master had a sense of decency, did not separate the family and allowed them to live as man and wife their entire lives. It is from their heritage my mother’s people celebrate our American legacy every other year at our family reunion. Next year we will bring the family reunion to Boston for the first time.
Modern Day Patriots
I love July 4th because of the Martin Luther Kings, Ralph Abernathys and Rosa Parks of America. Their struggles made it possible for me to live and educate my children in neighborhoods that historically would not have welcomed a Black family to settle in and make a home for themselves. The sacrifices of those civil rights heros will help me celebrate this day with even more intensity.
And let’s not forget the sacrifices of Cesar Chavez, the courageous Latino farm worker in California and civil rights leader of the 1960s and 70s. And dare we forget the 1982 death of Chinese American Vincent Chin, killed by angry Whites who thought he was Japanese and blamed him for the auto industry’s slump in Detroit. His tragic death mobilized countless Asian Americans to organize against hate crimes.
And we must celebrate the life of Wilma Mankiller, the warrior woman Native American activist, and First Female Chief of the Cherokee Nation. She died last year after years of advocating and leading her people.
This is the America I know and celebrate on July 4th. Bravery. Courage. Advocacy. Civil Rights. Social Justice. Seeking the American dream for all people, no matter what their ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, social class or religion may be.
It’s a young history, compared to the people of Africa, Australia, Asia, Latin America, South America or Europe. But it’s a history deeply rooted in triumph over struggle and equal access over oppression.
It’s All About The Music
For me, the best part of July 4th aren’t the barbeques or beach parties. It’s watching the Boston Pops Concert that starts at 8pm. I drove by the Hatch Shell this past weekend and saw all of the activities in preparation of tonight’s festivities. People were already getting ready to stake out their spot for the open air concert and fireworks.
I will happily settle in front of my television set and excitedly wait for the orchestra to strike up John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.” I will have my flag and march around my house while the orchestra strikes up the tune.
I’ve even included an audio clip of Stars and Stripes Forever at the top of this article so you can start a tradition of your own when you celebrate your own version of Independence Day this year or next.
So Happy Birthday America. You’re 235 years old with so much more work to do. But you’ve come a looong way from the early days when men and women dared to dream.
God Bless America. Happy Fourth of July!
**Your comments are welcome.
Other Countries Celebrating Independence Day In July:
Abkhazia (Georgia) - July 4
Algeria - July 5
Argentina July 9
Bahamas - July 10
Belgium - July 21
Burundi - July 1
Cape Verde - July 5
Columbia July 20 and August 7
Laos - July 19
Liberia - July 26
Malawi - June 26
Rwanda - July 1
Solomon Islands - July 7
Slovokia - July 17
Vanuatu - July 30
**The Republic of South Sudan, the newest gained its independence on July 9, 2011
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Carole Copeland Thomas is a 27 year speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in global diversity, empowerment, multiculturalism and leadership issues.