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9 fun conversation starters for your Fourth of July

Fireworks burst on the National Mall above the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol on July 4, 2022.
J. David Ake
/
AP
Fireworks burst on the National Mall above the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol on July 4, 2022.

The Fourth of July is a big day for fireworks, cookouts and parades. Need some help with that BBQ banter? Here are some Independence Day-themed facts to share.

1. There have been 27 different versions of the official U.S. flag from 1777 to 1960

Out of these 27 changes, 25 of them were made only to the stars on the flag. Since 1818, the number of stars on the flag, by law, must always reflect the number of states in the United States, with new stars added to the flag on July 4 in the year following their admission. The last was Hawaii's star after it was admitted in 1959.

President Biden waves to a crowd after a fireworks show during the Fourth of July celebration at the White House in 2022.
Evan Vucci / AP
/
AP
President Biden waves to a crowd after a fireworks show during the Fourth of July celebration at the White House in 2022.

2. There are numerous celebrations of U.S. Independence Day abroad

Celebrations of the United States' Independence Day happen in Denmark, Norway, Ireland and Sydney, Australia. In Denmark, the Rebild Festival rings in the festivities with a picnic and music, regularly drawing crowds of tens of thousands.

3. The Fourth of July is a big day for consumer spending

This year, Americans are expected to spend around $9.5 billion on food alone, and in 2022 revelers spent $2.3 billion on fireworks. Spending on the holiday used to be a faux pas; before the Civil War, it was considered unpatriotic for businesses to remain open on July Fourth.

4. Feelings of pride and patriotism in the U.S. are at a low

According to a 2022 Gallup poll, only 38% of Americans consider themselves extremely proud to be American. Still, according to the National Retail Federation, some 87% of Americans are planning to celebrate Independence Day this year.

5. Fireworks displays can significantly worsen air quality

As parts of the U.S. battle air quality issues caused by smoke from Canadian wildfires, there's concern about how some large fireworks displays can contribute to worsened air quality. Some regions are experimenting with drone shows to replace traditional fireworks displays.

People watch distant fireworks from a park on July 4, 2022, in Kansas City, Missouri.
Charlie Riedel / AP
/
AP
People watch distant fireworks from a park on July 4, 2022, in Kansas City, Missouri.

6. July Fourth celebrations make for busy ERs

U.S. emergency rooms see an uptick of injuries on the Fourth. Fireworks injuries are among the most common reasons for ER visits. If you're handling fireworks this year, keep in mind that 29% of fireworks injuries happen to hands and fingers. Some 10,200 people were injured by fireworks in 2022 (and 73% of those injuries occurred during the one month surrounding the holiday.)

7. The U.S. is not the only country celebrating freedom on July 4

It is also Liberation Day in Rwanda, and it's Republic Day in the Philippines. At least in the U.S., expect celebrants to consume somewhere in the realm of 150 million hot dogs on Independence Day this year.

Fireworks explode over New York City's skyline on July 4, 2022, as seen from Weehawken, New Jersey.
Julia Nikhinson / AP
/
AP
Fireworks explode over New York City's skyline on July 4, 2022, as seen from Weehawken, New Jersey.

8. It has never been easier to celebrate from the comfort of your home

Livestreams of this year's Independence Day celebrations will be happening across the nation. This year's A Capitol Fourth will stream festivities from Washington, D.C. The event will feature live performances from, among others, Chicago, Babyface and Belinda Carlisle — and will include what organizers call the "greatest display of fireworks in the nation," captured by 20 different camera views.

9. There is an argument that Independence Day should be celebrated on July 2

The Continental Congress voted on independence on July 2, 1776, but it didn't approve the Declaration of Independence document until July 4, 1776. Ask Founding Father John Adams: He argued the official holiday should be July 2.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Leigh Walden