As the 4th of July nears, excitement builds about hot grills and the skies begin to brighten with fireworks. With that kind of competition, how could anyone think to take their Independence Day celebration to a new level? How about using that critical mind and drop some knowledge? Check out these fun, festive and flabbergasting facts to liven up any Fourth!
1. The designer of our current 50 star flag got a B-
That’s right, Robert G. Heft was 17 years old in 1958 when he designed a 50 star flag for a school project. Heft spent 12 hours at the sewing machine designing a flag that would add new stars for Alaska and Hawaii, which he assumed would become states very soon (which they did the following year). Heft’s teacher, unimpressed with the effort, determined that his student must be confused by the number of states in the country. He gave him a B- and said it “lacked originality.”
Heft went to work contacting his representative in Congress and the President, making numerous calls to the White House. And his persistence paid off. Upon the acceptance of the flag design and a personal call to the young Heft from President Eisenhower, his teacher raised his grade to an A. Not long after, Heft designed a 51 star flag, and over the course of his life he patented flag designs up to 60 stars, just in case. Listen to his story below!
While honoring the flag this 4th of July, be sure to follow our tips on American flag etiquette!
2. The resolution for independence actually came on the 2nd of July
On July 2, 1776, 12 of the 13 colonies adopted the resolution for independence. Over the next two days, the Continental Congress adopted a number of changes, replacing roughly 1/5 of the original text. The final version of the Declaration of Independence passed through Congress on July 4. Because the original vote for independence was July 2, John Adams was adamant that should be the actual day of celebration, going so far as to refuse invitations to 4th of July celebrations.
3. Two founders passed away on 50th anniversary
On July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of independence celebration, Thomas Jefferson passed away. Just 5 hours later, unaware of Jefferson’s passing at Monticello, John Adams spoke his last, unknowingly inaccurate words: “Thomas Jefferson still survives.”
4. There really is secret text on the back
Well, not so secret anymore. And no, it’s not a treasure map. The original Declaration of Independence has a short message on the back that reads “Original Declaration of Independence / dated 4th July 1776.” Not nearly as exciting, but now you know! At that time in history, parchment was often rolled up for storage. That means this short, non-encrypted, non-invisible ink message was likely just a label.
As you watch the skies light up this holiday, don’t forget that this day of celebration has a long history that’s still being written. And remind young learners that history always comes with fun facts and knowledge to pass along.
Know any fun, weird, or unique facts about our Independence Day? Have any different traditions that make your celebration more special? Let us know in the comments below!