The people's voice of reason

This is the Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is the holiday that commemorates the day that our nation's Founding Fathers formally declared this nation's independence from Great Britain.

Since millions of Americans are traveling, expect traffic to be heavy from today through Monday morning as millions of Americans are on the roads celebrating the summer and the Fourth of July holiday. The Fourth of July falls this year on a Thursday so many people will also be off on Friday – though most of us will be back at work tomorrow.

This is a state and federal holiday. Banks, government offices, courthouses, most schools, and many businesses will be closed today in observance of the day that America declared its independence from Great Britain.

July 4, 1776, is the day that the Declaration of Independence received enough signatures from members of the Continental Congress that it was formally ratified and announced across the then first 13 states during the Revolutionary War.

It was not the beginning of the War. The War itself began in 1775, when British troops had attempted to seize the guns of rural Massachusetts militia companies at Lexington and Concord. Instead of preventing a revolution, the effort at gun control actually ignited a war and the British troops retreated after Concord back to Boston being pursued by over a thousand angry heavily armed American country people.

The Continental Congress convened initially to pursue a negotiated settlement of the growing conflict. George Washington was appointed to head the newly created Continental Army and the war escalated. Washington would force the British to withdraw from Boston after gun emplacements were made on the heights over the city.

Efforts to elicit some compromise from Britain proved fruitless and by the Spring of 1776, members of the Congress had become increasingly convinced that King George III would accept nothing less than a complete capitulation to the crown's terms. The Congress then ordered a Declaration of Independence be prepared. That task fell to a committee, but like almost all committees that actually accomplish anything, most of the work done on what would become the Declaration of Independence was done by a young, but brilliant, delegate from Virginia, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson would go on to be Governor of Virginia and the third President of the United States.

The Declaration did not accomplish anything. It would take seven more years of heavy fighting to finally win America its independence.

An estimated 25,000 Americans were killed in the Revolutionary War. Over 10,000 British troops were killed, an unknown number of those were American loyalist who fought for the British side. An estimated 58,000 crown Loyalists would leave the new country in response to the Revolutionary War's outcome.

There will be fireworks, parades, and concerts with patriotic music at many events across Alabama today.

Alabamians tend to work hard and also party hard, sometimes too hard. Many Alabamians celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks. Enjoying professional fireworks displays is a safe alternative to actually handling live fireworks yourself. Many Americans, particularly children, are seriously injured every Fourth of July due to careless use of fireworks. If you do choose to purchase fireworks, make sure that there is adult supervision and that no one is under the influence. Fireworks, like operating a boat or a motor vehicle, should never be handled by a person who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Much of Alabama is under light drought conditions so have water on hand to avoid fireworks igniting a fire. The fireworks fun should not extend past midnight as your neighbors have to go to work tomorrow and need their sleep.

More Americans will be on the roads than on a normal weekend, so please slow down, expect traffic delays, and be extra careful. Motor vehicle and boating deaths tend to go up on long Fourth of July weekends and alcohol usually is a contributing factor.

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