Independence Days


Remember Independence Day. We want to take today and honor those that sacrificed so much so that we in the U.S. can have the freedom we enjoy everyday.

The following is a piece written by Thomas S. Ellsworth. He also runs a great joke mailing list called Good Clean Fun. You can visit his web page at .


Most of us, and by that I mean most of us in the United States, know that the Fourth of July is the "birthday" of the United States of America. It actually marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress. Often marked by parades and community celebration, it is a symbolic time for American families to gather and reflect on their heritage.

Most of us take for granted that this day and all the other U.S. holidays are "national" holidays. Did you know that the United States observes no national holidays? Specifically, that means holidays mandated by the Federal Government. The United States Congress and/or President can only legally establish an "official" holiday for the District of Columbia and for federal employees. In fact, it wasn't until the 20th Century that an order was issued giving federal employees a "day off" from work. A public holiday can only be established at the local level. Typically the observance of holidays happens at the state level with the enactment of a state law or by an executive proclamation by a state governor.

I first started posting this piece in July 2000. After I posted it, I received an email from Jen in Alberta, Canada. She asked me why I only mentioned the U.S. holidays. She surmised that it was because I was from the U.S. and to that extent, she is right. The U.S. holidays, especially the ones dealing with independence, veterans, and those who died for this country, are special to me. And since Good Clean Fun is 99.9% humor, I certainly don't want to veer from that basic premise and turn this into a history site. But Jen did start me to thinking, so I did a bit of research about my neighbors, Canada and Mexico.

Look back at the subject of this email. It is Independence "Days," plural. So let me take a moment and briefly honor my neighbors:

1. Canada celebrates its Independence on July 1st. The British North America Act created the Canadian federal government on July 1, 1867. This Act proclaimed "one Dominion under the name of Canada," hence the original title of the holiday as "Dominion Day." July 1st has also been known in Canada as "Confederation Day." On October 27, 1982, the Canadian Parliament officially renamed the holiday as "Canada Day."

2. Mexico celebrates many national and religious holidays. I must admit that I always thought that Cinco de Mayo, the Fifth of May, was Mexico's Independence Day, but a bit of research proved me wrong. While Cinco de Mayo is a national holiday, it honors the Mexican defeat of the French army at Puebla in 1862. September 16th is Mexican Independence Day and it celebrates the day that Miguel Hidalgo delivered "El Grito de Dolores," and announced the Mexican revolt against Spanish rule.

So, let's all be proud of and reflect on our heritage.

My favorite piece of this genre was done many, many years ago by Red Skelton where he broke the Pledge of Allegiance down into individual words and phrases in order to explain the meaning of each one. The piece can be found at:

It also contains a link where you can hear Red's comments in his own voice. I highly recommend it.

Finally, let's remember that patriotism is NOT a sin, and the Fourth of July is more than beer, picnics, and baseball games.

Have a great holiday,

PS: Don't forget to fly the flag!

Received from Thomas S. Ellsworth.
From: or write to

Added August 14, 2005

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