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The History of Independence Day

The 4th of July, also known as Independence Day, is a significant holiday in the United States that commemorates the country’s declaration of independence from British rule. In the 18th century, the American colonies were under British colonial rule. Growing dissatisfaction with British policies, such as taxation without representation, led to increasing tensions between the colonies and the British government. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress, comprised of representatives from the thirteen American colonies, adopted the Declaration of Independence. The document, primarily drafted by Thomas Jefferson, proclaimed the colonies’ intention to separate from British rule and outlined the principles of liberty and equality. The first celebration of independence took place on July 4, 1777, one year after the signing of the Declaration. The occasion was marked with public readings of the Declaration, parades, bonfires, and fireworks in various cities and towns. Over time, the 4th of July celebrations evolved and expanded. In the early years, the festivities included public gatherings, speeches, and patriotic displays. The ringing of bells, firing of cannons, and illuminations were common ways of expressing joy and patriotism. The 4th of July was officially recognized as a federal holiday in 1870, making it a day of national observance throughout the United States. It is a time for Americans to reflect on the nation’s history, values, and freedoms. Modern 4th of July celebrations often include parades featuring marching
bands, floats, and community organizations.

Fireworks displays have become an integral part of the festivities, with cities and towns organizing elaborate shows. Families and friends also gather for picnics, barbecues, and outdoor activities. The American flag, with its stars representing the states and stripes symbolizing the original thirteen colonies, is prominently displayed during Independence Day celebrations. Other patriotic symbols, such as the bald eagle and the Liberty Bell, are also associated with the holiday. The 4th of July serves as a reminder of the country’s founding principles of liberty, equality, and self-governance. It is a day for Americans to come together, express their patriotism, and celebrate the freedoms they enjoy as citizens of the United States. The American Revolutionary War, fought between 1775 and 1783, was a pivotal conflict that ultimately led to America’s independence from British rule. Several important battles and events occurred during this war that played a significant role in shaping the outcome. Battle of Lexington and Concord (April 19, 1775): Considered the opening shots of the Revolutionary War, this battle took place in Massachusetts. British troops attempted to seize colonial military supplies, but they encountered local militia in Lexington and Concord. The colonists fought back, marking the beginning of armed resistance against British forces. Battle of Bunker Hill (June 17, 1775): Fought near Boston, this battle was a significant early engagement. Although the British ultimately captured the hill, they suffered heavy casualties. The battle demonstrated the determination and fighting ability of the American forces and boosted their confidence. Battle of Saratoga (September 19 – October 17, 1777): Regarded as a turning point in the war, this battle took place in New York. American forces, led by General Horatio Gates, defeated British General John Burgoyne’s army. The victory persuaded France to openly support the American cause, significantly bolstering the colonists’ chances of success. Battle of Trenton (December 26, 1776): Following several defeats, General George Washington and his troops staged a daring surprise attack on Hessian mercenaries in Trenton, New Jersey.

The victory provided a much-needed boost to American morale and demonstrated Washington’s strategic prowess. Battle of Yorktown (September 28 – October 19, 1781): Considered the decisive battle of the Revolutionary War, this engagement took place in Virginia. American and French forces, under the command of General Washington and General Rochambeau, laid siege to British General Cornwallis’ army. With naval support from the French, the British were surrounded and forced to surrender, effectively ending major hostilities in the war. These battles, among
others, highlighted the determination, resilience, and military capabilities of the American forces, which were instrumental in securing independence from Britain. They demonstrated the effectiveness of guerilla warfare tactics, the support of international allies, and the commitment of American patriots to fight for their freedom. The sacrifices made and victories achieved in these battles ultimately paved the way for the establishment of the United States as
an independent nation. The American flag, often referred to as the Stars and Stripes or Old Glory, has a rich and evolving history closely intertwined with the formation and development of the United States. Before the American Revolution, various flags were used to represent the American colonies. The most well-known was the “Grand Union Flag” or “Continental Colors,” which featured thirteen alternating red and white stripes representing the thirteen colonies, along with the British Union Jack in the canton. On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed a resolution that established the design of the first official national flag of the United States. It stated that the flag would have thirteen alternating red and white stripes, representing the thirteen colonies, and thirteen white stars on a blue field, symbolizing a new constellation. This design is known as the “Betsy Ross Flag.” As new states joined the Union, the number of stars and stripes on the flag increased. However, concerns about the growing number of stripes led to the “Flag Act of 1818,” which reverted to thirteen stripes representing the original thirteen colonies and mandated that a star be added to
the flag for each new state. During the War of 1812, the British attacked Fort McHenry in Baltimore. Francis Scott Key, inspired by the sight of the American flag still flying after the battle, penned the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” which later became the lyrics of the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The design of the flag continued to evolve with the addition of stars for new states. In 1912, President William Howard Taft issued an executive order standardizing the arrangement of the stars into rows. This led to the familiar pattern of alternating rows of stars seen on the current flag. The last official change to the flag’s design came in 1959 when Alaska and Hawaii became states. The current flag, with fifty stars representing the fifty states arranged in alternating rows of five and four stars, was officially
adopted on July 4, 1960. The American flag holds great symbolism for the United States, representing the nation’s history, values, and unity. It is proudly displayed on public buildings, schools, and private residences across the country, particularly during national holidays and patriotic events. The flag serves as a powerful emblem of freedom, democracy, and the enduring spirit of the United States.

SCN wishes everyone a happy and safe 4th of July! God Bless

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