believe it or don't
Here are some interesting facts about the Fourth of July; you might not know them all:
Here are some tips to make sure your tribute is a respectful one:
Display the flag only between sunrise and sunset on buildings and stationary flagstaffs. The flag may be displayed for twenty-four hours if illuminated in darkness.
Do not display the flag in inclement weather.
Whether displaying the flag vertically or horizontally, make sure the canton of stars is visible on the upper left-hand side.
Do not let the flag touch the ground.
An unusable flag that is damaged and worn and can no longer be displayed should be destroyed in a dignified way by burning.
When not on display, the flag should be respectfully folded into a triangle, symbolizing the tricorn hats worn by colonial soldiers in the Revolutionary War.
Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag. It is not clear who actually designed it, but the experts at the Betsy Ross House suggest it was Francis Hopkinson, a New Jersey delegate to the Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
The flag has 13 stripes representing the original 13 colonies (7 red and 6 white). In the upper left corner is a navy blue field with 50 white stars that represents the states.
There is no official designation or meaning for the colors of the flag.
There is no record stating why red, white, and blue where chosen for the flag. However, when the Great Seal of the United States was chosen this is what was listed for them.
White for purity and innocence
Red for valor and hardiness
Blue for vigilance, perseverance, and justice
Folktales say that George Washington interpreted the flag in this way:
the stars were taken from the sky,
the red from the British colors,
and the white stripes signified the secession from the home country.
If the flag is flown upside down it signals distress. It means "I need help, I'm in trouble".
Worn out flags are destroyed, usually by burning.
When flown at half-staff, the flag is raised to the top of the flag pole then lowered to half-staff. When taken down, the flag is again raised to the top and then brought down.
A flag is flown from dawn to dusk. However, it may be flown for 24 hours if illuminated during the hours of darkness.
The flag should never touch the ground, the floor, or water.
The Liberty Bell rung July 8, 1776 to announce the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
This bell has had quite a history.
On November 1, 1751, a bell was ordered from the Whitechapel Foundry in England with the intention it should hang in the State House steeple, now Independence Hall.
September 2, 1752, the bell arrived and March 10, 1753 in was hung. It cracked while the sound was being tested. The break was believed to be cause by flaws in the casting.
The cracked bell was melted down and recast by the local Philadelphia foundry. An ounce and a half to a pound of copper was added in an attempt to make the new bell less brittle. The tone of this bell was not liked and so it was again melted down and recast.
In June of 1753 the bell was hung again but the tone was still not approved of. A new bell was ordered from England. After it arrived it was agreed that it sound no better than the last. The previous bell was left in the steeple and the new bell was placed in the cupola on the State House roof and attached to the clock to sound the hours.
Independence Day is the celebration of adoption of the Declaration of Independence. It was written by Thomas Jefferson and signed by the Second Continental Congress - July 4, 1776. This statement gave the colonies freedom from Great Britain.
Independence Day was first observed in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776. In 1941, Congress declared July 4 a federal legal holiday.
"It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore."
Like colored gold dust sparkling high in the sky, watching fireworks is a 4th of July tradition.
Fireworks contain explosive materials and only experts should handle them. There are some fireworks available for public use called "consumer fireworks". These fireworks include cone fountains, cylindrical fountains, roman candles, skyrockets, firecrackers, mines and shells, helicopter-type rockets, certain sparklers and revolving wheels. Stay away from anything that isn't clearly labeled with the name of the item, the manufacturer's name and instructions for proper use. Even these products should be used with caution and always with adult supervision.
Firework rockets work in a similar fashion to military rockets. A fuse ignites a combustible substance, which forms gases that jet out propelling the rocket upwards. Once the rocket is high in the sky, a second combustible substance explodes. The explosion releases firecrackers (causing the bang) and the colored sparkles.
Many different substances go into making fireworks. Coloring agents include: lithium for red, sodium for gold and yellow, copper to help create blue, barium for the green (it also help stabilize volatile elements). Titanium and iron help produce sparks and sulfur helps to fuel fireworks.
To help you celebrate safely this Fourth of July, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Council on Fireworks Safety offer the following safety tips:
Always read and follow label directions:
Have an adult present
Buy from reliable fireworks sellers
Have water handy
Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks
Light one at a time
Never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks
Never give fireworks to small children
Store in a cool, dry place
Dispose of properly
Never throw fireworks at another person
Never carry fireworks in your pocket
Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass container
Thanks to Jerry Hunter who sent this last
item for this month's "Believe it or Don't" section:
Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence ?
Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.
Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army;
another had two sons captured.
Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy
planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He
sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly.
He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.
So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid.
Remember: freedom is never free!
There is more to think about on July 4th than just baseball games, hot dogs, and picnics.