When our twins were born on the day after Christmas we made the decision to celebrate their birthday on a different day. We chose the 4th of July because no other family member had a birthday in July, and because it was far enough from Christmas that it didn’t take away from their special day.
It’s also more fun (and less messy) to have birthday parties outside. One year on the 4th we were on vacation at the beach. As we watched the fireworks together one of the twins looked up at me and said, “Isn’t it nice that everybody celebrates our birthday with us?” For years they had assumed the reason everyone celebrated the 4th was because it was their birthday.
That made me wonder if children really understood exactly what Independence Day is, so I decided to find out. I e-mailed some friends who are teachers and asked them to poll their students. What follows are some of the more amusing answers to the question, “Just why do we celebrate the 4th of July?”
“I dunno, Miss Emily. You’ll have to ask Mr. Mc (the principal).” Abbie, age 6.
“Because Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean and we remember this day.” Sandy, age 8.
“It’s the day the twin towers fell down.” Ryan, age 8.
“It’s when the astronauts went up in space.” Jacob, age 7.
“Because of God and fireworks.” Robert, age 6.
“At my house we watch the big ball drop and set off fireworks too.” Seth, age 8.
“Jesus is special and we need a day for him.” Tiffany, age 6.
“I’m not sure what the 4th is but my big brother blows up army men with firecrackers that day.” Chelsea, age 8.
“It’s the day Betsy Ross made the flag.” Curtis, age 8.
The majority of children did know why we celebrate and one fourth-grade girl’s answer summed it up best.
“Lots of people enjoy this holiday because there are fireworks, but that’s not what the 4th of July is about. It’s really a day when we celebrate our freedom.”
God bless the USA, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and our children. Let freedom ring!