OHIO VALLEY — 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.
Exactly 242 years ago today those words rang true to Thomas Jefferson and those who signed the Declaration of Independence.
As we as Americans celebrate Independence Day, a celebration that would not have been possible without the fight for independence which started all those years ago, it is a time to reflect on those people and things that have made this independence possible.
In June 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies then fighting in what is now referred to as the Revolutionary War weighed a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain.
On July 2, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.
It has been celebrated as a federal holiday since 1941.
According to the National Archives, drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the Declaration of Independence is at once the nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty and Jefferson’s most enduring monument. A total of 56 people signed the Declaration of Independence.
Since its passage, there have been many changes, and much growth in the United States.
The United State Census Bureau estimates that 2.5 million people lived in the United States when it became independent in 1776. Today, as were celebrate the 237th Independence Day, there are an estimated 316.2 million people in the United States.
The Census Bureau also states many facts with regard to the Independence Day holiday and its beginnings.
Benjamin Franklin (age 70), who represented Pennsylvania, was the oldest of the signers. Edward Rutledge (age 26), of South Carolina, was the youngest.
Two future presidents signed, John Adams (second President) and Thomas Jefferson (third President). Both died on the 50th anniversary of signing the Declaration (July 4, 1826).
Robert Livingston, who represented New York, was on the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence but was recalled by his state before he could sign it.
As for the modern day celebrations of Independence Day, last year alone, the United States imported $218.2 million in fireworks from China, and $227.3 million total.
Village and cities throughout the nation hold fireworks displays as part of the annual celebrations. Locally, Gallipolis, Middleport, Racine, and Rutland host annual Independence Day fireworks displays.
Parades also mark many of the modern celebrations of Independence Day. Locally, parades are held in Mason, New Haven, Gallipolis, Middleport, Racine, Rutland and Wilkesville.
Editor’s note: This article, written by Sarah Hawley, originally appeared in the July 4, 2013 edition of The Daily Sentinel. The article has been modified with current information on celebrations and activities.