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Independence Day by the Numbers

Independence Day by the Numbers

Happy Fourth of July fellow Americans! No one celebrates their freedom and the founding of our great Nation as we do. I hope everyone takes the time to reflect on our freedom and explain what Independence Day is all about to our children. That being said, I thought it’d be fun to take a look at some numbers and facts that are the Fourth of July in America.

Our Declaration of Independence was approved in theory on July 2nd, but not officially approved until July 4th after Thomas Jefferson penned some changes to the original draft. The first signatures on the document were President of Congress John Hancock and Secretary Charles Thompson. The committee selected to draft the Declaration included Ben Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman.

The official signing of the document by 56 Representatives from the original 13 colonies took place August 2nd, 1776 at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. This, also penned by Thomas Jefferson, was the final version of our Declaration of Independence.

After the document was first approved on July 4th, it still needed to be printed and returned to each state for approval. This took a little time back in their day.

The newly formed United States of America had a population of 2.5 million citizens in 1776. As compared to our 325.7 million American citizens of today. Our Country is currently celebrating its 242nd birthday, which compared to other nations around the world makes our working democracy newly founded.

In 1778, General George Washington ordered double rations of rum for the soldiers and an artillery salute in Princeton, New Jersey to celebrate the 4th of July. Rum was the drink of choice for Americans at that time. Another interesting historical fact is that American Patriots, signers of the Declaration, and Presidents, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both died on July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Our Independence Day, July 4th, did not become a national holiday until 1941. I guess the wheels of government have always moved a little slow.

Now that we’ve talked history by the numbers let’s move on to some of the fun facts of today. Over 62% of Americans will attend a picnic for the 4th of July. Someone has to cook for all those picnic goers, and an estimated 74 million will be tending to the grill and BBQ. What’s the number one food eaten on the 4th of July? Hot dogs of course, to the tune of 155 million. The record number of hot dogs eaten belongs to Joey Chestnut, 72, at the Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest at Nathan’s at Coney Island

What goes great with those hot dogs? An ice cold beer, which has obviously replaced rum as the American drink of the day. Americans will drink over 1 billion dollars worth to celebrate their freedom. There are more red Solo cups sold in the month of July than any other month of the year, which comes as no surprise. This is where I must remind everyone please don’t drink and drive. Just not worth it!

Fellow Americans will spend over 700 million dollars on fireworks; nothing says happy Fourth of July like gunpowder and illuminating that night sky. There will be an estimated 300 visits to the emergency room for the more severe injuries due to fireworks. In total over 11,000 Americans will suffer a minor burn or injury due to fireworks, the most common being burns to the fingers and hands. With the change of law in regards to Pennsylvania fireworks, please everyone — be extra careful this year. Any questions see my article from June 27th.

Moving on to some horsehide facts. Major League Baseball and America’s pastime have had some memorable days on the 4th of July. Most noteworthy is probably New York Yankee Lou Gehrig’s, emotional farewell speech in 1939. The “Iron Horse” Gehrig, who set the record for most consecutive games played at the time, was stricken by ALS and forced from the game due to his failing health. His famous number 4 was retired.

On that same day, Jim Tabor of the Boston Red Sox hit four home runs in a doubleheader, including two grand slams in the second game. He had 11 RBIs and 19 total bases versus the Philadelphia Athletics. This is often forgotten about on a day remembered best for Lou Gehrig’s speech.

Some great baseball memories I have from the 4th of July occurred during the 80s. Beginning with New York Yankee Dave Righetti, firing a no-hitter against those hated Red Sox in 1983. A magical day at old Yankee Stadium. I remember watching the game on WPIX listening to Frank Messer and Phil Rizzuto like it was yesterday.

Two major league pitchers recorded their 3,000th strikeout on the 4th of July. The first being Nolan Ryan, playing for the Houston Astros in 1980. His victim was centerfielder Cesar Geronimo of the Cincinnati Reds, one of the coolest names in baseball at the time. The other to get his 3,000th on Independence Day, knuckleballer Phil Niekro. He was on the mound for the New York Yankees. His unwanted answer to a trivia question was Larry Parrish of the Texas Rangers. What a difference in an approach, “Rags” threw it up there at a hundred miles an hour for the Pinstripers, “Knucksie” Niekro floated it up there at about 70 miles an hour, both resulted in 3,000 plus strikeouts for their careers.

So enjoy your baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet — as the old Chevy commercial rang out. Throw in some fireworks, a cold beverage, and a great picnic with friends and family. Most importantly have a safe and happy 4th of July.

God Bless America.

Jim Webb

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