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Jewish World Review
June 26, 2009
/ 4 Tamuz 5769
Turning Independence Day into Freedom Day
Picnics, barbeques, hot dogs, corn on the cob, frozen desserts, watermelon … the Fourth of July is certainly a holiday for food. But also food for thought. Here are a few facts and a few thoughts on this Fourth of July. First are some facts brought to you courtesy of your US Census Bureau.
In July 1776, the estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation totaled 2.5 million. In 2008 the number was 304 million.
The chances are more than 4 to 1 that the hot dogs and sausages consumed on the Fourth of July originated in Iowa. The Hawkeye State was home to 17.6 million market hogs and pigs on March 1, 2008. This represents more than one-fourth of the nation's total. North Carolina (9 million) and Minnesota (6.7 million) were the runners-up.
In 2007, the dollar value of U.S. imports of American flags was $4.7 million. The vast majority of this amount ($4.3 million) was for U.S. flags made in China. Next time you buy an Ameican Flag, try to get one that was actually made in this country. They aren't really that difficult to find.
There are 31 places nationwide with "liberty" in their name. The most populous one as of July 1, 2006, is Liberty, Mo. (29,581). Iowa, with four, has more of these places than any other state: Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty and West Liberty.
Thirty-one places in the US are named "eagle" after the majestic bird that serves as our national symbol. (Places include cities, towns, villages and census-designated places.) The most populous such place is Eagle Pass, Texas, with 26,401 residents.
Twelve places have "independence" in their name. The most populous of these is Independence, Mo., with 109,400 residents.
Nine places adopted the name "freedom." Freedom, Calif., with 6,000 residents, has the largest population among these.
There is one place named "patriot" Patriot, Ind., with a population of 192.
And what could be more fitting than spending the Fourth of July in a place called "America"? There are five such places in the country, with the most populous being American Fork, Utah, population 25,596.
You know what Independence Day is, don't you? Some parents might believe that Independence Day is that day when your kid finally moves out of the house, but I'm talking about a different Independence Day, The American Independence Day that celebrates our nation's birth. The Fourth of July. Independence Day. We might just as easily call it Freedom Day.
A friend sent me the following little poem. You may have heard or read it before and I'm sorry to say I don't remember who wrote it, but what better time to share it with you once again then on the Fourth of July,
on our Independence Day. Truly America's Freedom Day.
I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform;
so young, so tall, so proud.
With hair cut square and eyes alert,
he'd stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil;
how many mothers' tears?
How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.
I heard the sound of Taps one night,
when everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant 'Amen.'
When a flag had draped a coffin
of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
of the mothers and the wives,
of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea.
Of unmarked graves in Arlington .
No, freedom isn't free.
This Fourth of July enjoy your family and friends. Enjoy your barbeques and picnics. Enjoy baseball games, the sunshine, the backyard, the park, the countryside, the beach. Enjoy your freedom and remember where it came from and who paid for it. Remember our troops, all of our troops, past and present. May G-d bless them all. Happy Independence Day!
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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© 2008, Greg Crosby