Entries in Fourth of July (11)


Hemp Flag Will Fly Above Capitol for Fourth of July

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Fireworks won’t be the only thing flying high over the Capitol during the Fourth of July celebration.

An American flag made of hemp, a non-psychoactive variant of marijuana, will be flown over the Capitol on July 4 for one day.

Industrial hemp – which is considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be a Schedule I substance along with ecstasy and heroin – is a type of cannabis plant that cannot legally be grown in the U.S. but is legally imported and used in hundreds of products ranging from rope to clothing.

Advocates say the plant has been unfairly demonized by drug regulators, even though it actually contains very little THC, the psychoactive chemical in its cousin plant, marijuana.

Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo. – who authored an amendment to the Farm Bill which passed the House and would allow industrial hemp research in states where it is legal – sponsored the hemp flag through the Capitol Flag Office, which allows members to request specific flags be flown over the Capitol building.

This will be the first time in more than 80 years that a flag made from hemp will fly over the Capitol, according to The Atlantic.

“Many of our founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington grew hemp,” Polis said. “Many of the very first American flags were made from hemp cloths. So there’s a real tie-in to our countries history and the important role industrial hemp played in agriculture in our country.”

The first American flag made by Betsy Ross was made from industrial hemp.

Colorado hemp-advocate Michael Bowman gave the flag to Polis as a prop to be used during Polis’ floor speech which then sparked his idea of flying it over the Capitol.

“I was on my way from the office building to the House gallery,” said Bowman. “I looked up and saw the flag flying over the Capitol, and I wondered, what if we put a hemp flag there?”

Per Capitol rules, flags flown over the building must be made in America.

Although growing hemp in the U.S is illegal under federal law, the hemp flag was grown in Colorado, which recently legalized the cultivation of the plant.

“It’s an important symbol, I think, to connect where we came from with regard to hemp and where we are going in the future,” said Bowman.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Fourth of July Is a Reprieve for 2016 Presidential Contenders

Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Traditionally a day when politicians march in patriotic parades and press the flesh of their constituents, this Independence Day is turning out to be more of a chance for rest and relaxation for some of the potential Republican and Democratic 2016 presidential contenders.

Many of those generating buzz as possible candidates to replace President Obama in 2016 will be using the Fourth of July to get a break from the attention.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are two exceptions. Christie and his family will lead the 103rd annual Ridgewood Fourth of July Parade, while Ryan will participate in the Racine Fourth Fest Parade.

But many of their possible 2016 competitors will be much further from the public eye, according to representatives for each of the politicians.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, will be “spending time with his family.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will also be with family.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum is on vacation in South Carolina.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is on a “long-planned summer vacation with his kids.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., have no public events planned for the holiday, although Cruz did release a video to commemorate the occasion.

But they will all soon be back to work, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who did not release a July 4 schedule but is planning to deliver a keynote speech in Pennsylvania at a Bryn Mawr College symposium on female leaders of “post-conflict” countries July 9.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Thanks Military Heroes at Fourth of July Celebration

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama paid tribute to America’s men and women in uniform Wednesday night as he kicked off the White House Fourth of July celebration, telling service members gathered on the South Lawn that they “represent what is best in America.”

“You serve under our proud flag.  You and your families sacrifice more than most of us can ever know -- all in defense of those God-given rights that were first put to paper 236 years ago: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” he said.  “So as your commander-in-chief -- but also as an American -- I want to invite all of you over to say one thing: Thank you.”

The president saluted this “generation of heroes” for its service and sacrifice.

“I want you all -- our men and women in uniform, our veterans and their families -- to know this: America will always remember.  We will always be there for you, just as you’ve been there for us.  That’s my promise.  That is America’s promise.  And that is one that we pledge to fulfill on this Independence Day,” Obama said.

The president and first lady welcomed service members and their families for a barbeque and concert at the White House and, of course, to see the fireworks.  Families braved the sweltering heat to enjoy the celebration and meet the president.

“Are you hot?  It’s supposed to be hot.  It’s the Fourth of July,” Obama, dressed down in khakis and a polo shirt, said at the top of his brief remarks.

“Today, all across America, at schools and beaches, and in town squares, Americans are celebrating the freedoms that all of you and your families defend.  Like many of them, we’re grilling in the backyard,” he joked.

Hot dog and hamburger stands were set up on the South Lawn.  Cotton candy and popcorn were also on the menu.  Children enjoyed face painting and balloon animals and, later that night, guests were treated to a concert by country crooner Brad Paisley.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney, Family in Tow, Steals the Show at New Hampshire Parade

Darren McCollester/Getty Images(WOLFEBORO, N.H.) -- The Romney family vacation hit a peak Wednesday as several of its members paraded down Main Street in the picturesque New England town of Wolfeboro, N.H.

Residents flocked to catch a glimpse of the presumptive GOP nominee with some even setting up chairs at dawn to get a good seat along the route.

Romney, accompanied by his wife, Ann, their five sons and more than a handful of their grandchildren, marched through the Wolfeboro town center, greeting supporters with handshakes and an occasional sweaty hug.  Romney has been there since Saturday enjoying a week-long vacation.  Wednesday marked his first public event.

“Happy Fourth of July!” Romney wished supporters as he criss-crossed the street, his Secret Service agents in tow, to shake as many hands as possible.  “Happy Birthday, America!”

When one supporter yelled, “Save our spirit,” Romney responded with an emphatic “You bet!”

“Get out and vote next year, this November, I mean!” said Romney, wiping beads of sweat off his brow.  At one point, stopping to guzzle a glass of lemonade, Romney was asked how it tasted, to which he replied, “Lemon.  Wet.  Good.”

The parade ended in a park overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee, where Romney stood alongside New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte to make brief remarks in honor of the holiday.  While Ayotte is rumored to be a vice presidential contender, members of the crowd were convinced that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal would show up there on Wednesday with RomneyJindal, who was in Baton Rouge, La., according to an aide, did not make an appearance.

“My heart is full this morning as I see you and know of your patriotism and passion for the future of this country, and I think of all that has been sacrificed so we can enjoy the liberties we have here,” said Romney on a stage decorated with American flags.

“The world needs a strong America. It needs an America that is convinced that its values are right, an America with strong homes and families, an America with an economy that’s bustling, creating jobs and supporting a military so strong that no one in the world would ever think of challenging it,” said Romney. “That is the America we must have and we must build!”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sen. Kelly Ayotte to Join Romney in New Hampshire on July 4

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte plans to march with Mitt Romney in Wednesday’s Fourth of July parade in Wolfeboro, N.H., GOP sources tell ABC News.

Ayotte will be the first vice presidential short-lister to appear publicly with the presumptive Republican nominee during his week-long vacation at his Lake Winnipesaukee retreat.  And her appearance also gives Romney the chance to meet with Ayotte privately at his home.

Romney arrived at his lakefront home in the small New Hampshire town last week to begin his annual family vacation, which includes such activities as the ”Romney Olympics.”  But there has been heightened speculation about whether Romney would use the time away from the political spotlight to meet with potential vice presidential contenders.

Ayotte, the freshman New Hampshire senator, is said to be one of several potential running mates the Romney campaign search team may be considering.  Also on that list: Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who plans to visit New Hampshire later this week.

Ayotte campaigned with Romney in New Hampshire in June during his five-day, battleground state bus tour.

Last week, Romney sent Ayotte to address the pro-life, National Right to Life conference in Arlington, Va.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fourth of July: The Perfect Presidential Campaign Holiday

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/PeteSouza/White House(WASHINGTON) -- With its widely attended parades, voter-filled picnics and overt patriotism, the Fourth of July may be the perfect holiday for a presidential candidate looking to connect with constituents during the long haul of the summer campaign.  

And for the two men currently vying for the White House, Independence Day this year will the perfect opportunity for a festive photo-op showcasing, in Mitt Romney's case, his family man-cred and, in President Obama's case, his support for military veterans.

"It is a day for people of all political stripes, a day for holding faith with America," said Robert Allison, the chairman of Suffolk University's history department.  "This is the one [holiday] that has it all: patriotism and a celebration of our history."

But for Romney and Obama, this Fourth of July is a balancing act between campaigning and vacationing.  Romney is taking the holiday week off for a family reunion at his New Hampshire vacation home, where about 30 family members are facing off in the annual "Romney Olympics" to compete in swimming, running and who can hang on a pole the longest.

But the presumptive GOP presidential nominee will squeeze in at least one Independence Day campaign event, taking a brief detour from his sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren on Wednesday to march in the local Wolfeboro Fourth of July parade.

After a weekend of R&R at Camp David with his family, Obama will spend the Fourth at home, hosting a picnic with military families and his administration staff and their families.  But on the fifth, family time is over as Obama sets off on a two-day swing-state bus tour.

The candidates' mostly at-home celebrations this year are low-key compared to the hectic schedule of a primary election year.

Last year, six of the eight announced Republican presidential candidates attended Fourth of July events, marching in a total of six parades and attending a picnic, a baseball game and an Independence-themed museum.

The same was true during the 2008 campaign.  During the crowded primary campaigns of 2007, candidates seemed to be competing for the most hectic Independence Day schedule.  Romney and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton each attended three events in Iowa, including the same parade in Clear Lake.

Then-Democratic candidate Joe Biden packed in a parade, a picnic, a house party and a fundraiser.

But by 2008, the two remaining candidates, Obama and John McCain, had seriously toned down their Fourth of July schedules.  McCain took the day off to spend time in Phoenix with his family.  Obama contained his campaigning to one Montana city, unlike the three-city tour of Iowa he did on July 4, 2007.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Says Thanks to Military Families with White House BBQ

Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- From the White House south balcony, draped in bunting of red, white and blue, President Obama and his wife Michelle kicked off the annual Fourth of July White House barbecue by saying thank you to more than 1,200 military personnel and their families.

“I cannot think of anybody I’d rather celebrate with than all of you: the men and women of our military and our extraordinary military families,” Obama said.

“After all that you do for our country every day, we wanted to give you guys a chance to get out of the uniform, relax a little bit and have some fun,” the president continued.

This is the third consecutive year that Obama has opened the annual South Lawn Fourth of July barbecue to military service members and their families.

The Fourth of July, Obama said, is not only a time to gather and celebrate but it’s also “a time for us to reflect on the meaning of America. … A nation that has lead revolutions in commerce, that sent a man to the moon, that lifted up the poor, that cured the sick, a nation that fought for democracy and served as a beacon of hope around the world.  But all this could only happen because of our founders central faith that through democracy and individual rights ordinary people have it within their means to forge a nation that is more just and more equal and more free.”

And the president promised the crowd that “as long as I have the privilege of serving as your Commander in Chief, I’m going to make sure that you have the support that you need in the field.  I’m going to make sure you get the care you deserve when you come home.  And, with the help of Michelle and Dr. Jill Biden, we will make sure that America takes care of your families.”

Obama was referring to the latest Internet project by Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden called, a website designed to bring help to struggling military families.

“You’re the reason why America and our armed forces remain the greatest force for peace and security the world has ever known,” he said.  “This day is possible because of your service.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Fourth of July Parades Popular with Presidential Candidates

Darren McCollester/Getty Images (File Photo)(AMHERST, N.H.) -- The Fourth of July is probably a presidential candidate's dream come true. With huge parades, community barbecues and a plethora of patriotism, Independence Day is the perfect opportunity to mix and mingle with constituents in early caucus states.
In 2011 GOP candidates are marching two by two through small towns in the first-in-the nation states of New Hampshire and Iowa. The average population of GOP candidates' Independence Day stops? About 10,000 people.

Both Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney were in Amherst, New Hampshire, population 12,000, Monday morning attending the same parade. The two exchanged handshakes and pleasantries before the parade began.

The Romney team marched at the front of the parade while the Huntsman crew brought up the rear. Asked about Romney being ahead in the parade, Huntsman, a former U.S. Ambassador to China, replied, "I guess we have more hands to shake."

And shake hands he did. Huntsman at times had to run to catch up to his supporters because he took so many detours to shake every hand offered to him.

A group of Ron Paul supporters held down a spot in the center of the parade, although the candidate himself did not attend.

Huntsman arrived at the parade with his wife, Mary Kaye, and two youngest daughters, Gracie Mei and Asha. The family was greeted by about dozen supporters chanting "Jon 2012." Romney was surrounded by about two dozen supporters on the parade route. The former Massachusetts Governor made an afternoon stop in Andover village green, and rounds out America's birthday with another parade in Laconia, New Hampshire.

Huntsman had four stops scheduled in New Hampshire Monday, more than any other candidate. After the morning parade, Huntsman lunched at a barbecue in Belmont before going on to Moultonborough and then Plymouth.

Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich were also parade twins, marching in Clear Lake, Iowa's Fourth of July parade.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum scheduled appearances at no fewer than three Independence Day parades in Iowa. Santorum started the morning in Urbandale at 10 a.m., headed over to Pella at 2:30 p.m. and rushed to Iowa Falls by 5:30.

Herman Cain is the only GOP presidential candidate who stuck to the big city for July Fourth. Cain, the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, spoke to the Independence Hall Tea Party in Philadelphia.

Ron Paul and Tim Pawlenty did not have any public events scheduled for Independence Day.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


First Lady Michelle Obama Makes Pitch to Help Military Families

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- First Lady Michelle Obama is using the 4th of July holiday to remind Americans to help out military families across the county.

In an email letter from her office, Mrs. Obama says that “when our troops are called to serve, their families serve right along with them” which means “missed holidays, bedtimes and ballet recitals. … it means pulling double-duty, doing the work of both parents, often while juggling a full-time job or trying to get an education.”

That’s why, she says, it’s important to get involved and help “take care of their families while they’re gone.”

To that end, she and Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Dr Jill Biden, started a website at to help facilitate that help.  

The site allows people to send messages of support, lists links to service organizations, and sign up to do service hours on projects to help military families with everything from babysitting to home care.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Most Americans Unsure About When US Declared Independence

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- American Fourth of July traditions are tightly woven into the fabric of U.S. society, but the history of the country’s independence seems to have slipped through the seams. 

A Marist poll released Friday shows that only 58 percent of Americans know when the country declared independence. Nearly a fourth of respondents said they were unsure and sixteen percent said a date other than 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Young people posted the most troubling scores with 41 percent of people ages 18 to 29 saying they were unsure when the Declaration of Independence was signed and 27 percent saying the wrong date.

One in four Americans do not even know which country the U.S. gained independence from. The correct answer, of course, is Great Britain, although 20 percent of respondents were unsure of that fact.

Again, age made a big difference. Middle-aged Americans – ages 30 to 44 - guessed the wrong country more than any other age group, or 10 percent of the time. The younger generation was less likely to be flat-out wrong, but was more likely to be unsure. About one third of Americans age 18 to 29 said they didn’t know for sure which country America won independence from.

Even some of the most public political figures in the country have trouble with their American history.

Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann flubbed her U.S. history recently when she declared that the Founding Fathers "worked tirelessly" to end slavery.

She later clarified her remarks in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos by saying John Quincy Adams, who worked to end slavery as American’s 6th president, was a founding father. Adams was nine years old when the Declaration of Independence was signed and was not elected to the White House until 26 years after George Washington’s death.

In March Bachmann mixed up her states when she told a group of supporters in New Hampshire, "You’re "the state where the shot was heard 'round the world at Lexington and Concord.'"

But those battles were fought in Massachusetts, not New Hampshire.

Herman Cain failed to brush up on his Constitution before he said in May that there was a "little section in there that talks about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." That "little section" is, of course, from the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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