Here are some 4th of July facts to share with your family and friends.
1. Firework sales are way up and injuries and deaths are way down. Americans now buy 700 percent more fireworks than we did 35 years ago… but injuries are down 90 percent. It’s some mix of better technology and kids actually listening to our little ka-blammo talk and realizing exploding things explode off fingers. And they need those for texting. In 2009, there was only one firework-related death in the U.S., and it was a guy who tried to launch a mortar shell from a tube on his head. In comparison, in 2009, two people died trying to tip vending machines over to steal candy.
2. The 4th of July is also Rwanda’s independence day. So you’re at a family barbecue and your smart ass nine-year-old nephew says to you, “Is there a 4th of July in other countries?” just so you’ll say, “No!” and he can sing-songedly say, “Oh yes there is! And also a 5th of July and a 6th of July.” Well, this year, cut that little punk off at the pass. “Is there a 4th of July in other countries?” “Yes, there is, because it’s just a day in the month. As while it’s not an independence day holiday in most of them, it is in Rwanda. It’s the day that commemorates when the horrific Rwandan genocide ended in 1994.” That way you’ll leave him scarred AND bring down the overall mood of the barbecue to make sure no one has a good time.
3. And it’s also the day the Philippines finally gained their independence from… America. The Philippines was a U.S. territory from 1898 on. In World War Two the Japanese occupied it. The U.S. helped the Philippines fight them, when the war was over, the Philippines became an independent country on July 4, 1946. And to celebrate, I assume they eat one of their national delicacies: Balut — which is a fertilized duck egg that’s boiled alive and eaten in its shell. Then again, we eat potato salad, so you tell me who’s grosser.
4. It turns kids into Republicans. A study this year out of Harvard found that kids who go to 4th of July parades are more likely to turn out Republican because “the political right has been more successful in appropriating American patriotism and its symbols during the 20th century.” Seems like a bit of a stretch to me, but whatever. Next study will say that watching a St. Patrick’s Day parade turns your kid into an Irishmen.
5. Three notable presidents have died on July 4th. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the same day, July 4th, 1826 — exactly 50 years after America’s independence. James Monroe died five years later. Calvin Coolidge was born on a July 4th — July 4th, 1872. Koko the Gorilla, for what it’s worth, was also born on a July 4th. I bring that up only because either one would’ve looked good following Warren Harding.
6. One out of four Americans don’t know the country from which we won our independence. In a 2010 Marist poll, only 74 percent said England/Great Britain. 20 percent were unsure and six percent named other countries. Yikes!
7. The movie “Independence Day” was originally supposed to come out on Memorial Day. It would’ve been called “Doomsday”. I just don’t know if it would’ve worked as well without the very fitting title. Like, what if “Groundhog Day” had been called “Replay”? Or “Halloween” had been called “Michael’s Revenge”? Or “Valentine’s Day” had been called “Why Watch a Movie With One Boring Romantic Plot When You Could Watch One With 17 Boring Romantic Plots?”
8. It’s the biggest beer-selling holiday of the year. The other four in order, are Labor Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day and Christmas. I love that Father’s Day is on there. Do people need that much beer on Father’s Day? Who rolls up to their parents’ house to hang with their dad and put down 60 cans of Old Milwaukee?
9. Despite what the media tells you, it’s not actually the most dangerous day to drive. July 4th consistently has among the most total fatal crashes every year — but when you adjust for day of the week and the overall high accident rates in the summer, it’s actually just the *second* most dangerous holiday for driving. New Year’s Day is number one.
10. Americans spend the same amount on popsicles and charcoal. For July 4th weekend, Americans spend approximately both $111 million on popsicles and charcoal.
Written by: Sam Greenspan