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July 6, 2013

Josh Drespling: My thoughts on July 4 just might set off some fireworks

NEW CASTLE — What is with these mid-week holidays?

This year, the Fourth of July, or should I say Independence Day, was in the middle of the week. It has me all mixed up on my days, and my schedule is a scrambled mess.

Trying to accommodate everyone and everything is nearly impossible. Cramming business and personal things into the couple of days before, or squeezing out a day of productivity on the 5th, is like getting blood from a stone.

I declare that Independence Day be celebrated on the first Friday of July. That will afford the federal holiday for workers and still give municipalities and cities the opportunity to have their own festivities on Friday and/or Saturday at their discretion.  

It simply makes more sense. It is much less disruptive to the work week and flow of business and gives us a happy little three-day weekend.

Did you know that there is a “Uniform Monday Holiday Act?” It was an act of Congress in 1968 that amended certain holidays, thus moving them to Monday. The act designated specific Mondays for Washington's Birthday (originally Feb. 22), Memorial Day (May 30) Columbus Day (Oct. 12), and Veterans Day (Nov. 11). Veterans Day was eventually removed from the list, but the primary objective of the act was to increase the number of three-day weekends for federal workers.

It is also a matter of historical fact that the legal separation of the 13 colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2. This separation happened when the Second Continental Congress voted on and approved a “Resolution of Independence” that was proposed in June. Many U.S. historians believe the Declaration of Independence was actually signed on Aug. 2, 1776, rather than the July 4 date that has become so famous. July 4 was actually the day that they revised, debated, and approved the wording of declaration. Seems silly that we celebrate proof reading.

I found an interesting quote from a founding father, the first United States vice president and second American president, John Adams:

“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

There are some interesting facts about July 4 and its celebration. In 1779, the 4th fell on a Sunday and thus was celebrated on the following Monday. In 1870, the U.S. Congress made Independence Day an unpaid federal holiday. Not until 1938 did it become a paid holiday.

To celebrate in 1778, George Washington provided a double portion of rum to his soldiers, along with an artillery salute. Perhaps what is the strangest fact of all about the infamous July 4 date is that Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Monroe, all who were signers of the Declaration of Independence, died on July 4 after their tenure as president.

With all that said, can I just get my three-day weekend? The date of July 4 is as debatable as the authentic day of our independence. Is it too much to ask for a little leeway here?

Because I need some extra time to drive to Ohio and buy all my fireworks to bring back to the Fireworks Capital of America.

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