Are We Losing Our Independence … Day?
Considering how New Jersey was the third of 50 states to join the United States of America, it can be shocking to see how little some of us know about Independence Day almost 230 years after we were granted admission to the union.
In order to prepare for the United States’ 239th birthday this Saturday, I decided to walk around Downtown Toms River and approached a bunch of people to see if they actually knew why our nation was born on July 4, 1776.
Among other peculiar responses, here are definitely the strangest answers I heard after asking, “What happened on July 4 in 1776?”:
- “I don’t know … [it’s] a day of fireworks and drunk people.”
- “Aw man, I can’t do that … I don’t know.”
- “I have no idea. Is that really your question?”
- “We did gain independence somehow. I know that!”
- “Didn’t we beat Britain? Isn’t that terrible?”
- “That’s when we freed the slaves.”
- “That’s when the U.S. infiltrated Cuba.”
For those of you who forgot, Americans celebrate Independence Day / The Fourth of July because that’s when the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed and adopted by the Continental Congress, ending British rule over the original 13 colonies.
I also noticed that most of the people I talked to prefer calling July 4th “The Fourth of July” instead of “Independence Day,” which is the official name of the federal holiday we’re observing this Friday.
There also seems to be a tendency for older individuals to prefer the official “Independence Day” name over what’s become locally adopted as “The Fourth of July.”
Just like Taylor ham and pork roll, there are only two types of New Jerseyans in this world. People that call July 4 “The Fourth of July” and people that call it “Independence Day.” Which one are you?