INDEPENDENCE DAY

This year July 4th falls on a Saturday. Because of this quirk of the calendar Independence Day celebration dates, will vary. The federal government, 46 states and the District of Columbia are celebrating ID today, July 3. Three states – NY, MA and TX – will celebrate the holiday on Saturday, July 4. RI will celebrate it on Monday, July 6.

Traditionally, Americans celebrate their independence with family gatherings, parades, carnivals, barbecues, fireworks, and, of course, political speeches. Many of us go to the beach or play golf (weather permitting) or attend concerts, plays or baseball games. Many of us remember, with nostalgia, when MLB celebrated Independence Day with a doubleheader, but those days appear to be gone for good. Unfortunately, this year, because of the coronavirus many of those traditional activities will be cancelled or curtailed for health reasons.

According to Forbes Magazine both the AAA and the TSA are anticipating sharply reduced travel this holiday weekend due to the coronavirus. The primary reasons for this are (1) many people are concerned over the health hazards posed by the coronavirus; (2) many states have imposed travel restrictions and quarantines with respect to those entering from other locales; and (3) many people are out of work and reluctant to spend money on vacations. The AAA has predicted the lightest travel activity since the 1940s (even though the population is now about 2 ½ times greater). Moreover, for the first time it has declined to make a specific prediction at all. The TSA reported that a mere 633,000 travelers passed through its airport checkpoints on Sunday, June 28, which was a substantial decrease from last year’s 1.66 million on the same date.

However we spend the holiday weekend, hopefully, some of us will take a few minutes to reflect on how our country was “born.” Who were the “founding fathers” we hear so much about? Who were the heroes of the revolution? How much do you know? Let’s find out. Below please find a special Independence Day quiz. As always, no peeking at the internet, and don’t ask “Alexa.”

1. The primary author of the Declaration of Independence was
a. George Washington
b. Henry Lee
c. Benjamin Franklyn
d. Thomas Jefferson

2. The oldest continuous Independence Day celebration is in what city?
a. Bristol, RI
b. New York, NY
c. Waterbury, CT
d. Philadelphia, PA

3. The origin of the song, “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” was
a. American troops during the Revolutionary War
b. French troops during the RW
c. British military before the RW
d. Hessians at the battle of Trenton, NJ

4. The movie, “Independence Day” starred
a. Tom Cruise
b. Will Smith
c. Morgan Freeman
d. Daniel Day-Lewis

5. The first person to sign the Declaration of Independence (and the only one to do so on July 4) was
a. Thomas Jefferson
b. Patrick Henry
c. Benjamin Franklyn
d. John Hancock

6. Each of the following was a member of the Committee of Five (assigned to draft the Declaration), except:
a. George Washington
b. Roger Sherman
c. John Adams
d. Benjamin Franklyn

7. Who was the only President to have been born on the 4th of July?
a. John Adams
b. Grover Cleveland
c. Calvin Coolidge
d. James Polk

8. Each of the following Presidents died on July 4th, except:
a. John Adams
b. Thomas Jefferson
c. James Monroe
d. James Madison

9. Each of the following is considered to be a “Founding Father,” EXCEPT:
a. John Adams
b. Andrew Jackson
c. Alexander Hamilton
d. James Madison

10. The “Star Spangled banner” was written by Francis Scott Key during which war?
a. French and Indian War
b. American Revolution
c. Civil War
d. War of 1812

11. The origin of the nick-name “Uncle Sam” is purportedly:
a. The Continental Congress
b. The Sons of Liberty
c. Meat packer who supplied meat to the US Army
d. British troops during the RW

12. Who, along with John Adams, is responsible for designating the bald eagle as the US’s National Bird?
a. George Washington
b. Thomas Jefferson
c. Benjamin Franklyn
d. Patrick Henry

13. Which state was the last of the “lower 48” to join the Union?
a. New Mexico
b. Oregon
c. Hawaii
d. Arizona

14. How many persons signed the Declaration of Independence?
a. 13
b. 26
c. 40
d. 56

15. Which was the first state to ratify the Constitution?
a. Virginia
b. New York
c. Delaware
d. Massachusetts

16. Purportedly, the Independence Day Nathans Hot Dog Eating Contest was first held in
a. 1876
b. 1930
c. 1945
d. 1916

17. Who was one of only two signers of the Declaration of Independence to be elected President?
a. John Adams
b. Andrew Jackson
c. Alexander Hamilton
d. Aaron Burr

18. Although July 4 is recognized as Independence Day, the Continental Congress approved a “resolution of independence” on this date.
a. June 15
b. July 1
c. July 2
d. July 3

19. Washington, DC became the capital in
a. 1776
b. 1800
c. 1820
d. 1920

20. The 14th state of the union was:
a. Maine
b. Georgia
c. Florida
d. Vermont

ANSWERS: 1. (d); 2. (a); 3. (c); 4. (b); 5. (d); 6. (a); 7. (c); 8. (d); 9. (b); 10. (d); 11. (c); 12. (b); 13. (d); 14. (d); 15. (c); 16. (d); 17. (a); 18. (c); 19. (b); 20. (d)

CONCLUSION

Well, how did you do? I’d like to know.
Now, some Independence Day-related trivia with which you can impress your friends:

1. Although we consider July 4th to be the official date of our independence, most historians now agree that the Declaration was not actually completely signed until August 2.

2. On July 4, 1777, the city of Bristol, RI celebrated the first anniversary of ID with a thirteen-gun salute. The city’s annual ID parade, which was first held in 1785, is the oldest continuous ID celebration in the US.

3. In 1778, to mark the second anniversary, George Washington issued double rations of rum to the Continental Army troops.

4. By the end of the 18th century many major cities were marking the day with various celebrations and parades. Today, many major cities hold massive and elaborate fireworks displays. In addition, many private organizations, for example, Macys, the Boston Pops, and many baseball clubs, entertain the public with fireworks displays. Macy’s fireworks celebration, generally considered to be the most famous, has been nationally televised every year since 1976.
Sadly, many private citizens, who are not properly trained, set off their own fireworks, sometimes with unfortunate results. Every year we read or hear about some tragic accidents involving loss of limbs or even death. Remember the case of NY Giants defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul? He lost part of few fingers (and nearly his life) and almost ended a most promising football career.

5. In 1870 Congress designated ID as a federal holiday. In 1938 it granted federal employees a day off with pay on that day.

6. With respect to the “Star-Spangled Banner:
a. It was composed by Francis Scott Key from a British prisoner ship in Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812. (Key was not a prisoner, himself. He was on the ship to negotiate the release of a prisoner.)
b. He wrote it as a poem named “The Defence of Fort McHenry.” Later, it was set to a tune, which, ironically, is an English drinking song, with the strange name of “To Anacreon in Heaven.” In case you’re wondering, the song was the official song of a gentlemen’s club in 18th century London.
c. Key wrote four verses and a fifth verse was added later, but, of course, we only sing the first. Does anyone know the words of the others? I don’t, but I will say that all five verses end with “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
d. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson declared that it should be played at all official events.

e. The “Star-Spangled Banner” became the national anthem in 1931.

7. This year, President Trump is planning a special celebration at Mt. Rushmore amid controversy over the appropriateness of the monument. Can you name the four presidents whose faces are sculpted on it? Answer below.

8. Some notable events that occurred on this day:
a. 1802 – The US Military Academy at West Point opened.
b. 1817 – The ground was broken for the Erie Canal in Rome, NY.
c. 1826 – Former Presidents and Founding Fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson oth died within hours of each other.

d. 1939 – Baseball legend Lou Gehrig delivered his famous “luckiest man” speech before a packed house at Yankee Stadium.

Enjoy yourself on the 4th, but, above all, be safe. If you travel, drive defensively and if you must handle fireworks, BE VERY CAREFUL!
Quiz answer: Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and T. Roosevelt.

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