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Happy Birthday, America!

Date Posted: 2012-06-29

Wednesday marks the 236th anniversary of the United States of America.

Americans around the world are planning picnics, barbeques, parades, speeches and fireworks over the next few days as the United States celebrates its 236th birthday.

From Alaska to Okinawa to the U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe, celebrations of all sorts are about to take place. Here in Okinawa, the American Consulate hosts an invitation-only old fashioned upscale picnic tomorrow at the Harborview Hotel, while the American Chamber of Commerce Okinawa commemorates Independence Day Saturday the 7th with a Star Spangled Summer Barbeque for its members and guests at the Kadena Marina.

The Seamen’s Club Naha pays tribute to the colors all week, July 2nd ~ 8th, with a Burgermania Meets Americana foods extravaganza. Traditional burgers and dogs, and some not-so-traditional, are all coming off the grill during the week of specials.

Navy MWR is celebrating the 4th of July at the Port of Call Club on White Beach with a Sunset Concert featuring David Ralston at 7 p.m. A barbeque begins at 4 p.m.

The Navy’s Crow’s Nest Club at Camp Shields has a REHAB show Saturday the 7th. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the show that’s free—and open to all ranks and services—and begins at 8 p.m. Army, Air Force and Marine Corps bases will be having many activities across the holiday weekend. Military personnel should check with base Morale, Welfare and Recreation offices for specifics.

The making of America wasn’t an overnight decision by colonials in America.

Frustration and anger over treatment by the King of England led a rebellious group of citizen lawmakers from 13 British colonies to break away from its European masters. The colonies, angry over what they called ‘taxation without representation’ organized its first independent First Continental Congress in 1774 to share their displeasure over the way England was treating them.

England, unhappy over the independent spirit being shown by its American continent colonies, sent troops to America in April 1775, firing the “shot heard round the world” as Paul Revere raced through the streets of Concord, Massachusetts warning ‘The British are coming, the British are coming!’. A month later, colonialists met again, the Second Continental Congress, but remained divided on how to resolve its problems with the British without declaring out and out war.

By June 1776, the colonies appeared united that they could not remain under England’s thumb, and drafted what ultimately became the Declaration of Independence. July 4th, 1776, they voted.

Although the Declaration of Independence called itself ‘unanimous’, it wasn’t. Pennsylvania’s nine delegates cast ‘No’ votes, as did South Carolina’s four delegates. Delaware couldn’t decide if the colonies should stay British or seek independence, while New York opted to abstain from the vote. Nine colonies—Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia—voted for independence.

The colonial delegates called King George III of England guilty of “absolute tyranny over these States” and demanded freedom. The Declaration of Independence spelled out the belief that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness”.

The delegates cited England’s imposing taxes without consent, but also lashed out at England cutting off America’s trade with other parts of the world, and said of King George III “He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns and destroyed the lives of our people”.

Without benefit of today’s technologies, it took days for Americans to learn of their new freedom. The Pennsylvania Evening Post was first to announce it, on July 6th. Two days later it was read in Philadelphia’s Independence Square. The official signing was complete until early August, but July 4th was adopted as the day freedom came to America.

The first Independence Day celebration was July 4th, 1777, and they’ve never stopped. Parades, family outings and picnics, and fireworks became part of the traditions.

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