National Memories

2006 FIFA World Cup Germany“Thus may the 4th of July, that glorious and ever memorable day, be celebrated through America, by the sons of freedom, from age to age till time shall be no more. Amen and Amen.”
Virginia Gazette on July 18th, 1777

Ask anyone in the United States about some of their most nostalgic moments concerning the month of July and most everyone, adult or child, will automatically say, “the Fourth of July”. Children anticipate the Fourth of July sometimes as much as they look forward to Christmas.  Independence Day is filled with the type of events from which memories are made.  The average American will be celebrating with friends and family as they gather for a BBQ, fireworks and fun.  Some may attend a local parade or community firework display to commemorate this important day in American History.

The Fourth of July marks one of the most epoch events in America’s past.  The adoption of the Declaration of Independence took place on July 4, 1776 by popular vote of the thirteen colonies.  Philadelphia celebrated the Declaration four days later with public readings and bonfires.  It was not until August 2, 1776 that a fair printing was signed by the framers of the Declaration.  On July 4th, 1777, Congress was adjourned in Philadelphia and the Declaration was commemorated with bonfires, bells and fireworks.

The history of fireworks goes back to the Chinese Han Dynasty (206 BC – AD 220).  They roasted bamboo to make a loud bang.  The Chinese also discovered the use of gunpowder for fireworks and China remains the largest exporter of fireworks in the world.  It is interesting to note that Disneyland was the first to use compressed air to launch fireworks in 2004.   Using compressed air along with an electronic timer offers certain advantages:  these include fewer fumes than gunpowder and greater accuracy for timing and height.

July 14, 2006 marks Bastille Day which is the French national holiday.  This anniversary commemorates the storm of the Bastille prison in 1790, releasing the final seven prisoners held by the ancient Regime of King Louis the 16th.   This occasion symbolized the desire of the people to be released from the rule and oppression of the King, so that they might put an official end to monarchy and form a sovereign nation; which led to the birth of the First Republic in 1792.  The French hold military parades and firework displays from the evening of July 13 through July 14th.   Bastille Day also falls during the Tour de France; French riders make a special effort on this day so that they might represent their country in victory for this event.

Speaking of major sporting events, there is none bigger than the FIFA World Cup which began in 1930 and except for 1942 and 1946 (during World War II) it has taken place every four years.  The 2006 FIFA World Cup began in Munich, Germany on June 9th and will wrap up with the finals on July 9th.  History indicates that the World Cup Final will continue to be the most watched sporting event.  The 2002 FIFA World Cup was watched on TV by 30 billion viewers, with over 1 billion viewers watching the final match.

National memories for the United States and France are celebrated every July.  The victorious winners of the Tour de France and the FIFA World Cup will create even more national memories at the conclusion of these international events.

Resources for July: