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Things You (Probably) Don't Know About the Fourth of July


Fireworks explode over Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol building at the National Mall in Washington, Tuesday, July 4, 2017, during the Fourth of July celebration. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)


“The day will be the most memorable in the history of America,” wrote John Adams in 1776. People will honor it with parades, fireworks and celebrations, he added.

Adams was talking about the second of July.

That is the day the Continental Congress voted in support of independence from the British. But the date written on the Declaration of Independence is July 4. So, since 1776, Americans have celebrated July 4 as the country’s Independence Day.

And July 2? Not so much.

Patriotic to the end

Several early presidents of the United States died on July 4. They include John Adams, who became the second president.

Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the country’s third president, both died on the country’s 50th anniversary of Independence Day.

James Monroe, the fifth U.S. president, died on July 4, 1831.

And the 30th president, Calvin Coolidge, was born on July 4.

Amazing? Or disgusting?

Most Americans celebrate Independence Day with barbecues, parades and, yes, fireworks. But a few celebrate by eating all the hot dogs they can.

Current champion Miki Sudo (L) poses with competitor Michelle Lesco during the official weigh-in ceremony for the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest in Brooklyn, New York, July 1, 2016.
Current champion Miki Sudo (L) poses with competitor Michelle Lesco during the official weigh-in ceremony for the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest in Brooklyn, New York, July 1, 2016.

Since the early 1970s, a restaurant called Nathan’s Famous has organized a competition to see who can eat the most hot dogs in a short time. The event is now shown on sports broadcaster ESPN. It includes a women’s competition and a men’s event. Both are held in New York City, in an area called Coney Island.

In 10 years, Joey Chestnut has won the men’s contest nine times. In 2016, he set a record at the competition by eating 70 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

The 2016 women’s winner, Miki Sudo, has won in each of the past three years. In 2016, she ate 38 (and a half) hot dogs.

Sudo and Chestnut each won a $10,000 prize.

Where do those fireworks come from?

Let’s go back to those fireworks, probably the most common image related to Independence Day. Americans really, really love fireworks. The American Pyrotechnic Association – “pyrotechnic” is another word for “fireworks” – reported that Americans spent $825 million on fireworks last year.

The United States Marine Corps War Memorial, better known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, in Arlington, Virginia, on July 4, 2011, as fireworks burst over Washington. The Washington Monument and the Capitol are in the distance.
The United States Marine Corps War Memorial, better known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, in Arlington, Virginia, on July 4, 2011, as fireworks burst over Washington. The Washington Monument and the Capitol are in the distance.

Where do many of our fireworks come from? China.

By the way, we also import most of our American flags from China, too.

Happy Independence Day!

I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.

Kelly Jean Kelly wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

disgusting adj. so unpleasant that you feel slightly sick

barbecuesn. outdoor meals or parties at which food is cooked on a barbecue

hot dogn. a small cooked sausage

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