Public Editor

‘Independence Day’ not ‘Fourth of July’

Updated: 2013-07-08T16:51:01Z

I heard from an emailer who articulated a concern I’ve heard from several others through the years. The front page yesterday carried a large, colorful banner across the top with an illustration of fireworks and the legend, “Happy Fourth of July.” That isn’t the right term for the holiday, wrote Jackie Peterson:

I was disappointed to see that the banner of today's front page posted "Happy Fourth of July" and on the editorial page above the reprinting of the Declaration of Independence it stated "In honor of the Fourth of July." Apparently American history is no longer taught in public schools and it's shocking that many people (especially young people) are ignorant of what we actually celebrate on this day: Independence from the tyrannical rule of the King of Great Britain and the founding of our great nation. We are celebrating the historical event not the name of the date. Please always refer to it as "Independence Day" and give it the respect and honor it deserves.

This is one of those calls that some people might chalk up to pure subjectivity, but I think my emailer makes a good point. There really is a difference between the colloquial “Fourth” and the offical name of the holiday. While neither one is wrong, I’d agree that “Independence Day” is more meaningful and carries inherent meaning that “Fourth of July” lacks. By the way, Slate has an interesting “Explainer” column on the history here.

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