The Fourth of July is clearly my favorite time to enjoy our great Upper Peninsula summers. We are blessed with parades and family get-togethers, and it is also a time to recall, reflect upon, and appreciate the heroic contributions of all our military personnel, past and present. On this Fourth of July, let's take another look at why this great U.S. holiday is so special, and why it is so important to recall the roots of the founding of the greatest country on the face of the earth.
Here is a brief review the history of this most patriotic time of year that was initially celebrated "unofficially" for many years. It is believed that July 4th was celebrated in various colonies during the late 1700's to recall the struggles of the American Revolutionary War. In June of 1776, representatives from the 13 colonies that made up the Continental Congress resolved that it was now time to declare our independence from Great Britain.
After weeks of discussion and deliberation, these very brave representatives voted to officially declare our independence. Thomas Jefferson was assigned the task of preparing the written document to be delivered to England. He then prepared the document that we know today as our Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence contains 1337 words that were handwritten on parchment with a quill pen. This profound work of Thomas Jefferson is considered to be the founding document of American history. Further, it is considered by historical scholars to be perhaps the most important single document ever to be written throughout the entire history of the United States.
This incredible document was then officially adopted by the leaders of our great nation on July 4, 1776. By delivering this document to Great Britain, these brave representatives knew they were truly putting their lives on the line to demand independence for the 13 colonies. Starting in 1776 and continuing today, the Fourth of July has been recognized as the birth date of our American independence.
This week we celebrate the Fourth of July as our great annual recognition of the founding of these United States. This day is also known as Independence Day, and it was in 1870 that the United States Congress made July 4th an official federal holiday. Then, in 1941, it was expanded to grant a paid holiday to all federal employees. To many of our citizens, the celebration of the Fourth of July represents our most important national holiday because it stands out as such a symbol of patriotism for our great nation.
One of our United States presidents was born on the Fourth of July, and three of our presidents died on the Fourth of July. Calvin Coolidge, our 30th President was born on July 4, 1872. John Adams, our second President, and Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, both passed away on July 4, 1826, and this was exactly on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. James Monroe, our fifth President, died on July 4, 1831.
As we enjoy the freedom and liberty that our great United States offers, I wish for you and yours a most blessed, safe, and happy Fourth of July.
Editor's note: Dr. Jim Surrell, author of "SOS (Stop Only Sugar) Diet," has his practice at the Digestive Health Clinic at Marquette General Health System. Requests for health topics for this column are encouraged.