The 4th of July is about much more than baseball, barbecue and beer. America’s most patriotic day celebrates our country’s official separation from British rule and the many ways in which our collective identity has become so quintessentially American since. As most of us managed to pass 8th grade American History with relatively few scars, see how well your knowledge holds up with our true or false trivia.
True or False: The red, white and blue colors in the U.S. flag stand for the (red) blood that was shed for our independence, the (white) representation of our country as a nation of peace and the (blue) bravery of the Continental army who fought the British.
False. The red stands for our nation’s hardiness and valor, the white symbolizes purity and innocence, while the blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
True or False: The biggest 4th of July celebration outside of the United States takes place in Denmark.
True. Denmark began throwing a massive 4th of July bash in 1912 after a large number of Danes emigrated to the U.S. The outdoor festival, which takes place in Rebild, Denmark, has become so popular that several presidents and American icons have given keynote speeches at the event including Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Walt Disney and Walter Cronkite.
True or False: America’s first Continental Congress voted to declare our country’s independence on July 4, 1776?
False. The Continental Congress actually voted to declare our independence on July 2, 1776 while the declaration’s written draft was altered and refined through the morning of July 4, 1776 when it was adopted. It was then sent to a number of assemblies, committees, conventions, commanders of the Continental troops and newspapers for publishing.
True or False: Once the Continental Congress voted unanimously to form an independent nation, all members signed the Declaration of Independence.
False. John Hancock was the first to sign the document, however it took nearly a month to have 56 members of Congress sign the official Declaration. Though it was ordered that every member of Congress sign the document, two notable non-signers were Robert R. Livingston who was on the five-person committee who drafted the Declaration and John Dickinson. Dickinson hoped for a reconciliation with the British while Livingston felt the Declaration was “too premature” for him to sign at the time.
True or False: The current United States flag design is the product of a high school homework assignment.
True. In 1958, 16-year-old Robert G. Heft of Lancaster, Ohio was assigned to design a new U.S. banner that depicted the addition of Hawaii and Alaska’s entry into statehood. Using an old flag, some blue cloth and white iron-on material, Heft fashioned the flag we know today. Though his teacher gave him a B-minus for his effort, the flag was sent to Washington D.C. where it was adopted as the official U.S. flag by Dwight D. Eisenhower. Heft’s grade was then changed to an A.
True or False: The Declaration of Independence is protected more securely than most homes.
True. Encased in bullet-proof glass, the Declaration is moved to an underground vault when the National Archives are closed.
True or False: Two signers of the Declaration died on the same day on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration.
True. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the second and third presidents of the United States both died on July 4, 1826. Though both men were bitter enemies throughout their political careers, they became friends later in life. Adams’ last words were “Thomas Jefferson still survives”, as he did not know Jefferson had died mere hours before.