Fourth of July means fireworks, barbecuing and celebrating the great country we live in with family and friends. Some of us celebrate in large crowds viewing multi-million dollar fireworks displays, while some of us prefer a private party showcasing bottle rockets and homemade popsicles. Whichever way you celebrate, here are four American facts to know before the Fourth of July parties hit full swing.
1. The U.S. Library of Congress is Documenting Your Tweets
Whether you like it or not, the Library of Congress is saving every tweet you send out. According to the library’s director of communications, the purpose of the archive is to capture the story of America. I’m not sure if cat memes and friendly banter are worth saving, but undoubtedly many tweets are essential to capture the voice of the common people at a time and place in history.
Many Americans take to Twitter to share their opinions after major events that change the shape of our country. Although tweets are limited to 140 characters, it is no small task to save every American’s tweets. Twitter has over 300 million active users sending 500 million tweets a day, with many of these tweets coming from Americans. Storing all these tweets has its difficulties, especially during pivotal times in our country.
Don’t worry, tweets that are protected behind a private account or deleted are not saved. Next time you tweet about how much you love your Pugs sunglasses, keep in mind there may be someone in the future reading your tweet!
2. Public Libraries Outnumber McDonald's
Although it may seem like there is a McDonald's restaurant on every street corner, there are actually less McDonald's restaurants than public libraries in the U.S. With 14,350 McDonald's restaurants in the United States, a shop on every street corner may not be far from the truth. However there are 16,541 public libraries in the U.S., providing citizens with a place to access the internet, read books and rent all different types of media.
Americans may have a bad rap with eating too much fast food and a high obesity rate, but critics may be surprised to learn we still love reading more than cheeseburgers. McDonald's also offers free WiFi, so libraries may have some competition. Next time your hear people complaining about Americans’ poor health, remind them of this fact.
3. All U.S. Military Flags Must Be American Made
For years, many of the U.S. military had American flags flying over their bases that were made in China or other foreign countries. After legislation passed in 2014, flags that the military purchases must not only be made in the U.S.A, but also all the materials must be completely sourced from inside the states.
The new legislation is an extension of the Berry Amendment, which requires the Department of Defense to purchase uniforms, food and tools that are produced within the United States. While purchasing items from China may be more cost effective, it is good to know that the military is purchasing goods from American businesses that employ American workers.
4. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson Both Died on July 4th
Fifty years after the Declaration of Independence announced the United States’ sovereignty, two founding fathers took their last breath within hours of each other. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both instrumental in founding the United States, lived extraordinarily different lives yet were both entirely committed to their country.
On July 4th, 1826, both of these former presidents were asked to attend Independence Day celebrations, yet could not make it due to feeling ill. The two often disagreed as political rivals; in a letter to Jefferson Adams said: “You and I ought not to die before we have explained ourselves to each other”. Ironically enough, John Adams’ last words were “Thomas Jefferson survives” without knowing that Jefferson had passed earlier in the day.
It is fitting that the men who dedicated their lives to the United States died on the national holiday that sums up what all their hard work was for. When you are lighting up your fireworks remember we are not only celebrating our freedom, but also the men who dedicated their lives to our country.
However you celebrate, the Fourth of July holiday is a great time to enjoy life with those around you. Pack a stocked cooler and bring few snacks and you're bound to have a good time. The midsummer sun can get hot, so make sure to stay close to water and your sunglasses.