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Fourth of July is THE holiday. The weather is perfect and watermelon and sweet corn abound at every farmer’s market. No pressure finding over-priced gifts no one really wants or fear of insulting someone by naively expressing an incorrect sentiment such as “Merry Christmas”.

Did someone say FIREWORKS !

 This is a politically correct, national, unique American holiday. A much needed annual shot of National Pride as we tend to find ourselves in the quagmire of politics all too often – even more so being an election year.  The rest of the world, whether they love us or hate us, cannot ignore us. We mean well…..we love our blue jeans, fast food and democracy. Being the epitome of “Revolutionary”, we are a people always more than eager to lend a hand (or the entire Marine Corps) whenever and wherever we hear another Rebel Yell.

Somehow it is in our collective consciousness – the enormous risk it took to build this country and to maintain her today. It could be said we’re stubborn, but when you consider our heritage, it’s no wonder why. And where else will you find yourself protected by unparalleled military force of soldiers despite whatever views you hold?*** As Ben Franklin quipped in regards the Declaration “We must all hang together or assuredly we will hang separately.”

Like most of my fellow Philadelphians, we cherish our radical roots. Experiencing the home of Betsy Ross and Elfreth’s Alley (the nations oldest residential street) is something I will never forget – the history is palpable. 

*Highly recommend this gets added to everyone’s Bucket List:

Elfreth’s Alley

An entire blog could be dedicated to the characters that formed our nation. For simplicity sake, I will share a couple of my favorites, starting with a few of the obvious:

Betsy Ross: Born in Philly on January 1st, 1752, She was the 8th of 17 children….so thankful those days are long gone. Legend has it she could make a five-pointed star with one snip of the scissors; a feat that impressed George Washington enough to get her the job of making our flag. Score one for Domestic Divas everywhere ! Oh, she was married three times; first two husbands killed in the Revolutionary War….which leads me to believe she was somewhat of a hottie of her day.

Ben Franklin: One of our most quote-able Americans. His father wished him to be a preacher, but soon realized it would take more years of study than Ben would probably handle, so he found Ben a position as a printer’s apprentice. “Poor Richard” of Poor Richard’s Almanac was his alter-ego. In interest to bloggers; Ben is credited with the first cartoon ! (A snake bearing the colony’s initials with the caption “Join or Die”.) Many may know he was instrumental in founding the first library, hospital, and volunteer fire department….but we also have him to thank for the first insurance company (no one’s perfect).

He self-taught through three languages, violin, guitar, as well as other interests and in 1751 opened what is known today as the University of Pennsylvania.

As for his kite/electricity fame: he was shocked senseless twice, almost fatally. And he is the inventor of much of the terminology of the new science such as battery, brush, charged, condense, conductor, plus and minus, positive and negative. Besides his well known inventions, he also came up with bifocals, the odometer, a mechanical arm used to reach high shelves, and the library step stool.

Paul Revere: Infamous for his ride warning “the British are coming”, though he did not earn his living riding horseback as a British Location Device. He was an accomplished master goldsmith and he also worked as a dentist. Perhaps the founding father of “The Grill” ? Not everyone knows he participated in the Boston Tea Party as well. The original Tea Party. Boston. The one that would have carried the penalty of death to any participant. Not the “let’s have a tea party” where a bunch of politicians joined together and …… what DO they do?

I’m sure not what Mr. Revere had in mind, but perhaps some occupations are better not combined.

John Hancock: Famous for his signature, but not everyone knows why. You’re in luck, I do! In 1774, he was elected president of Massachusetts Provincial Congress, an autonomous government. John was also the Massachusetts delegate to the Second Continental Congress, the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution. This all made him a target for British authorities, and was able to avoid arrest thanks to Revere’s ride. In May 1775, John Hancock was elected president of the Continental Congress, which was meeting in Philadelphia. During the eight years of war, Hancock used his wealth to help fund the army and revolutionary cause. Blah blah blah, MJ, get to the point…..

The colonial version of “Nahner nahner nah nah!”

On July 4, 1776, Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, Hancock is credited as the first signer of the Declaration of Independence. His prominent, stylish signature became famous. It is said Hancock boldly signed his name so the English king would not need glasses to read it. Audacious !

And acouple you may not be so aware of:

Mary Hayes McCauley aka “Molly Pitcher”: When her husband left to serve in the war, she was not about to sit home  – she went with. She found her calling one day as soldiers fought and temperatures rose. She began carrying pitchers of water out to soldiers and nursing the wounded left on the field until they could be helped. She was given the nick-name Molly Pitcher. But she didn’t stop there; when her husband was injured, she picked up his gun and fought in his place. Love her !

James Armistead: A double spy – This guy was crazy brave ! Born into slavery, but was granted his request to join the army. By posing as a runaway slave hired by the British to spy on the Americans, he infiltrated General Cornwallis’ camp. While spying on General Benedict Arnold, he became trusted by both armies enough to move back and forth which allowed him to report detailed information preventing the British from sending troops to Virginia.

I leave you with one last quote:

Wise beyond his years…

…. perhaps the foreshadowing of the concept of “Freshly Pressed”?

***You are more than welcome to disagree. Clark and my father are veterans, my uncles all served in Vietnam, and my grandfathers both fought in WWII to protect that right. But that also protects my rights, and if you poison my blog with moronic comments I will mock you.

Happy 4th Everyone !