The Millstone Times July 2020


Max's Minute By, Max Druckman

Happy Birthday, USA! This year, the United States of America turns 244! Each year on July 4, our nation celebrates its birthday. On this date 1776, the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. From hot dogs to fireworks, beach days to baseball, everyone has their own Independence Day traditions. These cus- toms each have their own unique and interesting origin story and history. Fireworks are perhaps the oldest Independence Day custom. They were supposed to be a mainstay of the holiday before the Declaration was even signed. John Adams, a Founding Father and America’s second president, wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776, that foresaw the signing of the docu- ment being honored with fireworks. The first July 4th firework show was held the very next year in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The rest, as they say, is his- tory (literally). Today, there are over 14,000 firework shows each July 4th in the United States. Firework displays are both a timeless and beautiful tradition. Barbecues are one of the best, and certainly the tastiest, parts of Independence Day. The custom of barbecues began in the South in the early 1800s. They usually took place in the center of a town and contained singing, prayers, and a parade. The commemorations also featured toasts in honor of the country, usually 13 in reference to the 13 colonies. Food served at the dinners included goats, pigs, cattle, watermelon, and cucumbers. With the westward expansion of the U.S., bison were added to the Independence Day menu. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, hot dogs and hamburgers became the staples of cookouts. What will you be eating this July 4th? The first Fourth of July parade was held in Bristol, Rhode Island in 1785. The parade is held annually to this day. Parades across the nation evoke the patriotic spirit and often feature floats, bands, and food. There is a spectacular national parade, held in Washington D.C., each year. Make sure to catch your town’s parade! Professional sports are a storied tradition of America’s birthday. The two most prominent competitions going on around July 4th are Major League Base- ball and the Wimbledon Championships of tennis. There have been many iconic baseball moments on Independence Day. In 1939, New York Yankees Hall of Fame first baseman Lou Gehrig gave his famous “Luckiest Man” speech as the Bronx Bombers retired his number 4. Gehrig had retired two weeks prior due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He was the first player ever in any sport to have his number retired. In 1980, Houston Astros Hall of Fame fireballer Nolan Ryan struck out his milestone 3,000 th batter en route to becoming the all-time strikeout king. Wimbledon has also featured some amaz- ing moments on Independence Day. In 1975, tennis legend Billie Jean King defeated Goolagong Cawley to win her last ever Grand Slam championship in the Wimbledon final. In 1993, all-time great Pete Sampras beat Jim Courier to capture his first Wimbledon victory. So, what are you going to do this Independence Day? Get outside, have some fun, enjoy the nice weather, and spend some time quality with your family! Even in the midst of a pandemic, we can still celebrate our nation’s freedom with our own favorite festive traditions. Happy Birthday, America!

18 The Millstone Times

July 2020

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