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Enjoy a safe, happy Independence Day

Unbelievably the Fourth of July is already approaching next week, signaling for many the median point of the summer. The day will be a time of celebrating for the most part with family gatherings, outdoor barbecues and in some areas gigantic fireworks displays, synonymous with the patriotic Independence Day observance.

The following are some facts about the holiday you might find interesting as you ponder how you will be celebrating a week from today:

*The holiday commemorates the formal adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776; however, it was not declared a legal holiday until 1941.

*Eleven places have "independence" in their name, the most popular Independence, Mo., with 112,000 residents.

*Massachusetts was the first legislature to recognize the Fourth of July in 1781.

*In 1870, the U.S. Congress made Independence Day a holiday, albeit unpaid, for federal employees.

*Fireworks were made in China as early as the 11th century. The Chinese used their pyrotechnic mixtures for war rockets and explosives.

*Not all members of the Continental Congress supported a formal Declaration of Independence, but those who did were passionate about it. One representative rode 80 miles by horseback to reach Philadelphia and break a tie in support of independence.

*The first two versions of the Liberty Bell were defective and had to be melted down and recast. The third version rang every Fourth of July from 1778 to 1835, when, according to tradition, it cracked as it was being tolled for the death of Chief Justice John Marshall.

*The American national anthem, the "Star-Spangled Banner," always heard on the Fourth, is set to the tune of an English drinking song ("To Anacreon in Heaven").

*Father of the country and architect of independence George Washington held his first public office at the tender age of 17. He continued in public service until his death in 1799.

Lastly, is the fact that a whopping 150 million hot dogs (one for every two people) are expected to be consumed by Americans during the great Fourth of July cookouts.

Eat and enjoy and have a safe, happy Fourth of July with your family and friends.