2. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day—July 4, 1826. America’s second and third Presidents (respectively) passed away within hours of each other on the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. As legend has it, Adams’ last words were, “Thomas Jefferson still survives,” though his old friend and political opponent had died a few hours before. Our Founding Fathers were, as the kids say today, beasts. They attached their signatures to a document that would have served as their death warrant had the Continental Army been defeated.
3. You are allowed to eat a bunch of unhealthy food today because this is a celebration -- of America. On this holiday, hot dogs, apple pie, mac-n-cheese and anything deep-fried are all on the menu. And you can wash them down with a big ol’ glass of Kool-Aid or a root beer float. And after you play a game of backyard football or burn your hands with some sparklers, you can eat it all over again and finish it off with a big piece of flag cake with extra frosting. But you will still brush your teeth tonight. You don’t want to have a wooden smile like George Washington, do you? (Yes, I know it’s a myth but THEY don’t know it’s a myth yet.)
4. You will stay up late to watch the fireworks, because John Adams would have wanted you to. Our second President wanted fireworks to be a part of the festivities before the Declaration was even signed. How do we know this? Because Adams wrote a letter to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776 detailing his vision for the celebration. He wanted the occasion commemorated, “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews (shows), Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.” The first official Independence Day fireworks were set off on July 4, 1777. And just like the generations of American before us, tonight we will watch the illuminations in the night’s sky while we chew on a corn dog and sing “God Bless the U.S.A.”