Still celebrating our freedom 279 years later

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, July 2, 2014


am finding out that my Grandfather was telling me the truth when he said that the older you get the faster the years fly by.  With that said, it is hard to believe that Independence Day is already here again.

I am already within ten years of the age of the oldest signer of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin, who was only 70 at the time.  He looks much older in the pictures.

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The youngest was Thomas Lynch of South Carolina who was only 27 years old.  The main author, Thomas Jefferson, was only 33 when he penned the Declaration.

By and large, the signers of this document were educated.  Ben Burkett, who is on his way to Harvard, will be happy to know he is in good company as 7 of the signers were educated there.  Four signers each were educated at William & Mary, Yale and Princeton.

Only 2 of signers of the Declaration of Independence later served as President of the United States.  There were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who weren’t very fond of each other at the time.  Ironically, they both died on the same day, July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the Declaration was signed.

The new country was obviously much smaller geographically, with only 13 states or colonies at the time.  The population for the entire country was approximately 2.5 million or about half the number of people living in metro Atlanta today.

Like many other items purchased by Americans, almost 90% of the flags purchased for July 4th celebrations are made in China.  An even higher percentage of the fireworks purchased for the holiday come from China; 97% to be exact.

Americans like to celebrate their holidays with food.  For the Fourth, hot dogs top out the list with over 150 million being consumed.  Hamburgers come in second, although at the Ponder house, it is usually celebrated with Ribs.

Our founding fathers celebrated the day with a meal quite different than modern day cookouts.  “According to legend, on July 4, 1776, John Adams…and his wife, Abigail, sat down for a celebratory meal of turtle soup, New England poached salmon with egg sauce, green peas and boiled new potatoes in jackets. They followed the meal with Indian pudding or Apple Pandowdy,” wrote Justine Sterling for in 2011.

Ben Franklin was not happy about the selection of the Bald Eagle as the national bird.  In a letter to his daughter in 1784, Franklin indicated that the Turkey was a much more appropriate symbol of the new country.

The Liberty Bell is no longer rung on July 4th because of its famous crack and overall condition. In fact, the Liberty Bell hasn’t been rung since 1846.  Instead, it is tapped thirteen times in honor of the original thirteen colonies.     However, every military base that has the capability fires a salute of one gun for each state in the United States.  This action, called a “Salute to the Union” occurs at noon each Independence Day.

Some 279 years after that daring declaration that changed the world, we celebrate those still inspiring words that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Happy Birthday, America!