Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Celebrate Independence Day in Helena, Montana by Rita Karnopp

I still rise, hold my hand on my heart and tear-up when I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag or sing, “Oh say can you see – by the dawns early light  - . . . .”

I would want to live no other place.  I’m proud to be an American.  My uncle served in the army in WWII and his jeep, with six other men, hit a mine.  He came back wondering why he was the only survivor.  It affected his entire life.  He did that for me.  For you.  For every American.  When my son joined the National Guard – my husband and I couldn’t have been more proud.

The trick to having a great Independence Day in the Helena is to come prepared for anything. Due to usually high fire danger in July, most people who enjoy large firework displays travel a few miles east to the City of East Helena. (The City of Helena has a city-wide ban on fireworks. The fine is pretty steep for discharging fireworks within the city limits.)  Each year East Helena provides a secure firework display that can be seen over the entire Helena metro area. With Montana’s ‘big skies’ you can see fireworks in every direction.

It’s Mayberry time – since you’ll find people sitting in their own back yards having barbecues –watching the fireworks – celebrating independence with family and friends.

It has snowed for the 4th of July in the past.  Yep – I’m serious.  Mother/grandmother came to visit from Wisconsin and was shocked when we had to put coats and mittens on the kids so they could run, sparklers in hand, across the snow-covered green grass.  Thank goodness - the weather reports look pretty good for this year. 

All in all it is going to be a great Independence Day in the Helena, Montana this year. Here is wishing you a blessed and happy Independence Day.  Let me share a bit of trivia about this wonderful day for us Americans.
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.

During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia declaring the United States independent from Great Britain. After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

Adams's prediction was off by two days. From the outset, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress.

Historians have long disputed whether Congress actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, even though Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin all later wrote that they had signed it on that day. Most historians have concluded that the Declaration was signed nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2, 1776, and not on July 4 as is commonly believed.

In a remarkable coincidence, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as Presidents of the United States, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, but another Founding Father who became a President, James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831, thus becoming the third President in a row who died on this memorable day. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872, and, so far, is the only President to have been born on Independence Day.
  • In 1777, thirteen gunshots were fired in salute, once at morning and once again as evening fell, on July 4 in Bristol, Rhode Island. Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary in a manner a modern American would find quite familiar: an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts, 13-gun salutes, speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. Ships were decked with red, white, and blue bunting.
  • In 1778, General George Washington marked July 4 with a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute. Across the Atlantic Ocean, ambassadors John Adams and Benjamin Franklin held a dinner for their fellow Americans in Paris, France.
  • In 1779, July 4 fell on a Sunday. The holiday was celebrated on Monday, July 5.
  • In 1781 the Massachusetts General Court became the first state legislature to recognize July 4 as a state celebration.
  • In 1783, Moravians in Salem, North Carolina, held a celebration of July 4 with a challenging music program assembled by Johann Friedrich Peter. This work was titled "The Psalm of Joy".
  • In 1791 the first recorded use of the name "Independence Day" occurred.
  • In 1820 the first Fourth of July celebration was held in Eastport, Maine which remains the largest in the state.
  • In 1870, the U.S. Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees.
  • In 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday.
Unique or historical celebrations

Originally entitled Yankee Doodle, this is one of several versions of a scene painted by A. M. Willard that came to be known as The Spirit of '76. Often imitated or parodied, it is a familiar symbol of American patriotism

  • Held since 1785, the Bristol Fourth of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island is the oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States.
  • Since 1868, Seward, Nebraska has held a celebration on the same town square. In 1979 Seward was designated “America's Official Fourth of July City-Small Town USA” by resolution of Congress. Seward has also been proclaimed Nebraska's Official Fourth of July City” by Governor James Exon in proclamation. Seward is a town of 6,000 but swells to 40,000+ during the July 4 celebrations.
  • Since 1912, the Rebild Society, a Danish-American friendship organization, has held a July 4 weekend festival that serves as a homecoming for Danish-Americans in the Rebild section of Denmark.
  • Since 1916, Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City supposedly started as a way to settle a dispute among four immigrants as to who was the most patriotic.
  • Since 1959, the International Freedom Festival is jointly held in Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario during the last week of June each year as a mutual celebration of Independence Day and Canada Day (July 1). It culminates in a large fireworks display over the Detroit River.
  • Numerous major and minor league baseball games are played on Independence Day.
  • The famous Macy's fireworks display usually held over the East River in New York City has been televised nationwide on NBC since 1976. In 2009, the fireworks display was returned to the Hudson River for the first time since 2000 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's exploration of that river.
  • Since 1970, the annual 10 kilometer Peachtree Road Race is held in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • The Boston Pops Orchestra has hosted a music and fireworks show over the Charles River Esplanade called the "Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular" annually since 1973. The event was broadcast nationally from 1987 until 2002 on the A&E Network, and from 2003 until 2012 on CBS.
On the Capitol lawn in Washington, D.C., "A Capitol Fourth", a free concert, precedes the fireworks and attracts over half a million people annually

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