Weather Forecast


Talking Points -- Things you may or may not want to know about the Second of July

I received a call the other day and a stern reminder that the correct reference to what we commonly call the Fourth of July is Independence Day.

It's not the first time I've been admonished for incorrectly using a term to describe an important holiday. I had to be extremely careful that I never wrote "Merry X-mas!" in a holiday card to my late Aunt Ella.

"Is that what you think, that Christ is an X?" she'd say. And then say again every time she'd see me for about three months.

No, Auntie, Christ is not an X, and after a little research, I've found that the Fourth of July doesn't correctly refer to Independence Day, either.

In fact, Independence Day actually should be July 2. On that day in 1776, Congress voted to legally separate the United States from Great Britain. It wasn't until two days later that the Declaration of Independence was dated and the final signatures affixed to the document that most of the signatories scratched their names onto on July 2.

But what the heck, what's a couple of days, especially if we should be referring to it as Independence Day, anyway. Second of July just doesn't seem to have the same ring to it.

Even the U.S. Census Bureau got it wrong, declaring that July 4, 1776 was the date the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence.

But the Census Bureau does provide some fun facts about the state of the union in July 1776:

• In July 1776, there were an estimated 2.5 million people living in the newly independent nation. By July 2008, the number was 304 million. That means that over the 233-year history of this country, the population has increased by about 1.3 million people per year.

• The value of fireworks imported from China in 2007 was $207 million, representing the bulk of the $217 million worth of U.S. fireworks imported. U.S. exports of fireworks came to just $14.9 million in 2007. And I always thought we were the best at blowing stuff up.

• There is a 40 percent chance that the side dish of baked beans at your cookout came from North Dakota, which produced 42 percent of the nation's dry, edible beans in 2007. If the folks from N.D. just kept all those beans at home, barbecues in Fargo alone might produce enough methane to power the city.

• In 2007, U.S. imports of American flags totalled $4.7 million. The vast majority of this amount -- about $4.3 million -- was for U.S. flags made in China. OK, so we can't make our own TVs any more and it might not be long before we can't make our own cars. But making U.S. flags? You'd think that would be one thing we could do ourselves.

• And on the subject of our old adversary, the British, consider that the value of trade last year between the United States and the United Kingdom was more than $107 billion. That made the British our sixth-leading trading partner. It could've been even more if we could have convinced them to buy more U.S. flags -- must have been that dang Bush who messed that up, too!

Thomas Jefferson is credited with writing the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. But, according to, he intended it as a letter addressed to King George III listing a series of complaints. Before he sent it, however, a few of his fellow congressmen reviewed the letter. John Adams and Benjamin Franklin began revising it to the point that it reads as it does today.

Good thing Tom didn't have email or he might have hit send before John or Ben could've gotten a word in edgewise.

Hope you had a wonderful Second of July and that Independence Day is nice, too.