What's Cooking at the Genua's?

It's Not Just Popcorn!

Our Independence Day

on July 4, 2010

And no I am not referring to the blockbuster movie with Will Smith and Bill Pullman, though I did enjoy that movie! For the last 234 years the United States has celebrated our independence in one form or another. Most of us associate the day with parades, fireworks, barbecues, a day off from work and so on. But these traditions did not happen overnight.They took time. 234 years. I am all for the food and parades and fireworks but most of us have no idea how we got to where we are in observing this day! We all know this day is in observance of the day our Declaration of Independence was adopted. But how did we get to where we are today?

  • In 1777, thirteen gunshots were fired, once at morning and 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. (sound familiar?)
  • 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.

Over time, various other summertime activities also came to be associated with the Fourth of July, including historical pageants and parades, picnics, baseball games, watermelon-eating contests, and trips to the beach. Common foods include hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, apple pie, cole slaw, potato salad and sometimes clam bakes. It all depends on where you live. And we should all remember that because we live in a free country we can celebrate however we want without fear. It’s a great country and I am proud to be an American!


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