Happy Independence Day and some Interesting Facts about our Declaration

July 3, 2013

Happy Independence Day Thank you to those who serveEvery year on the 4th of July Americans celebrate our country’s adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.

But, as Heritage explains, Independence Day is a great opportunity to renew our dedication to the principles of liberty and equality enshrined in what Thomas Jefferson called “the declaratory charter of our rights.

A tradition in our household is to read the Declaration of Independence (and the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights) every year as a reminder of the freedoms our Founders fought and died for.  This holiday is also a great time to reflect on our armed forces, and their families,who give so much in the name of defending the ideals and free institutions we often take for granted.

Some interesting Q&As and factoids about the Declaration of Independence from Archives.gov include…

Questions & Answers

Q. Is anything written on the back of the Declaration of Independence?

A. Yes, there is writing on the back of the original, signed Declaration of Independence. But it is not invisible, nor does it include a map, as the Disney feature film, National Treasure, suggests. The writing on the back reads “Original Declaration of Independence, dated 4th July 1776,” and it appears on the bottom of the document, upside down.

Q. Is the original Declaration of Independence written on paper?

A. No, the original was engrossed on parchment which is an animal skin specially treated with lime and stretched to create a strong, long-lasting writing support. The printed version is on paper and was read aloud from town squares throughout the colonies, so that those who could not read would receive the news about intended separation from England.

Q. Was Thomas Jefferson the only person involved in writing the Declaration of Independence?

A. Jefferson was the author of the document and was a member of the Committee of Five that was appointed to draft a statement presenting to the world the colonies case for independence. The committee consisted of two New England men, John Adams of Massachusetts and Roger Sherman of Connecticut; two men from the Middle Colonies, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York; and one southerner, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia.

Did You Know…

  • the Declaration of Independence was adopted by 12 of 13 colonies (New York not voting) on July 4, 1776, but wasn’t actually signed by all the delegates until August 2, 1776.
  • John Hancock, the President of the Congress, was the first to sign the sheet of parchment measuring 24¼ by 29¾ inches.
  • the Declaration of Independence is housed in a specially sealed encasement containing the inert gas argon with a controlled amount of humidity to keep the parchment flexible. The encasement is constructed of ballistically resistant materials. The document is closely guarded.
  • If you were a member of the Second Continental Congress in 1776, you were a rebel and considered a traitor by the King of England. You knew that a reward had been posted for the capture of certain prominent rebel leaders and signing your name to the Declaration meant that you pledged your life, your fortune, and your sacred honor to the cause of freedom.
  • Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and member of the Committee of Five died on July 4, 1826. And John Adams, also a committee member, died on the same day.

Read more on Archives.gov … and we hope you and yours have a fun, safe Independence Day holiday! j & B


Arizona wildfire kills 19 of our elite firefighters + The Hotshot’s Prayer

July 1, 2013

yarnell hill fire photo APArizona suffered a devastating loss yesterday. Nineteen firefighters from the elite Granite Mountain Hotshots of Prescott, died Sunday fighting an out-of-control wildfire in Yarnell, a tiny Yavapai County town roughly 80 miles northwest of Phoenix.

About half of the town’s 500 homes were feared destroyed by the blaze, which began early Friday evening and had spread to 8,374 acres by early Monday. All of Yarnell and the neighboring Peeples Valley were evacuated. Fire crews reported no containment as of Monday morning (1-Jul-2013).

The National Fire Protection Association website lists the last wildland fire to kill more firefighters as the 1933 Griffith Park fire of Los Angeles, which killed 29. The most firefighters — 340 — were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.

The Granite Mountain Hotshots, established in 2002, were an elite ground firefighting crew known for their innovative problem-solving and history of safe, aggressive fire suppression.

Members of the crew were highly trained, came from diverse backgrounds, and worked long hours in extreme environmental conditions doing the most demanding of fireline tasks.

According to The Daily Courier

  • They carried 50-70 pounds on their back, hiked seven miles or more to where they needed to work, and worked up to 14 hours, sometimes longer.
  • The average age of the men in the hotshot crew was 27-years-old.
  • “They have to be ready to leave for an assignment on two hours’ notice, which sometimes means missing family events,”Wade Ward of the Prescott FD said last week. “They have to be prepared to be on that assignment for 21 days, get two days rest at home, and possibly be sent out on another 21-day assignment.”

prescott granite mountain hotshots

Prior to the Yarnell Hill fire which took nearly all of their lives, the team had just returned from a wildfire in New Mexico.

Just one week ago, the same crew also led the charge against the massive Doce fire in the Prescott National Forest.

We’d like to take a moment to extend our condolences to the elite fallen firefighters, their families, the cities of Yarnell and Prescott and the entire firefighter nation. Words can never adequately express the gratitude we have for all first responders who sacrifice so much to help keep us safe. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by this and other wildfires ravaging the nation. Bill & Janet Liebsch, FedHealth, Tucson AZ

iaff logo used on yarnell prescott arizona 19 memorial program

arizona prescott yarnell 19 hot shot prayer

prescott arizona firefighters killed yarnell hill fire


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