A Tribute to the 4th of July
By JUDY COLLIER, Features Writer
During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the 13 colonies from Great Britain in 1776, actually occurred on July 2nd. The Second Continental Congress voted to approve the independence on that day then turned their attention to the actual written Declaration of Independence, a statement written to explain the decision.
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author, and contributing to the declaration was John Adams, Ben Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. Congress debated and revised the wording, and finally approved it on the 4th of July. Then it was officially signed by the aforementioned gentlemen.
In 1777, 13 gunshots were fired in salute to the 13 colonies, once in the morning, and once again in the early evening on the 4th of July. Ships in port were decked in red, white and blue bunting. In 1778, General George Washington marked the 4th of July with a double ration of rum for his soldiers. In 1779, July 4th fell on a Sunday, so it was celebrated on Monday, the 5th of July.
By the year 1783, celebrations included challenging musical accompaniments to the festivities. In 1870, Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees. In 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid holiday for federal employees. Hence, the 4th of July is a national holiday marked by many patriotic displays. Picnics and barbecues are the most noted celebrations.
Parades are often held in the cool of the morning, before families get together to celebrate in their own traditions. Fireworks are held in the evenings, after dark, for the best visual displays.
Most displays of the fireworks take place at a lake, river, park or fairgrounds, while well known patriotic music is played through sound systems most everyone can hear.
Safety concerns have led to public bans on fireworks, especially in areas of severe drought, like our own New Mexico, battling numerous wildfires. A salute of one gun for each state in the USA, called a “salute to the union” is fired on Independence Day at 12noon by any capable and willing military base.
During the first week of July, it is typically one of the busiest USA travel periods of the year. Many people use what is often a 3 day weekend to extend the weekly vacation.
The famous Macy’s Fireworks display over the East River in New York has been televised annually since 1976. Other networks often televise and broadcast firework displays from many other locations around the country. Did you know that the Philippines celebrate the 4th of July as their Republic Day? That is because in 1946 they ceased to be a USA territory and the USA officially recognized the Philippine Independence. Denmark holds the largest 4th of July celebration outside of the USA!
The night before the 4th was once the focal point for loud, raucous gatherings with bonfires as their centerpiece. In New England, the towns competed to build towering pyramids, assembled from barrels and casks. The highest was in Salem, Massachusetts, the pyramid composing of as many as 40 tiers of barrels. They were considered the tallest towers ever assembled.
However you and your family and friends celebrate the 4th of July this year, the key is to BE SAFE! Enjoy picnics and good barbecue from places equipped to handle outdoor cooking in these trying conditions. Like the Eagle Nest Fireman’s Barbecue at lunch, followed by our very own Eagle Nest parade at 2pm. Please, be respectful of all the warnings that restrict all outdoor fires and grills. We have had quite enough of wildfires already this year!
Don’t purchase or bring in illegal fireworks. Even smoking outdoors is prohibited right now. Even fireworks launched over the lake here have had a small fire or two erupt. Enjoy the holiday, be safe and courteous to others; locals and our tourists alike. We have many businesses in this Enchanted Circle that rely on summer tourism to improve their bottom for the entire year. Keep that in mind when you want to get upset about extra people in our villages. You have no idea what people are going through,
so just be kind!