Parades, picnics, family gatherings, speeches and fireworks have always been the standard fare of the Fourth of July in Carroll County.

On July 9, 1920, the now-defunct Union Bridge Pilot reported at length about a baseball game in town, but took special note that "Easily the most outstanding feature (of the Fourth of July) was the army airplane in charge of Lieut. Philips, one of the most daring in the Aviation service…

The airplane had "left the Dundalk Fields for Union Bridge at 11:30. But as he lost his bearings he did not arrive here until after 2 o'clock, having been forced to land three times.

"He first flew over the field and after performing a number of daring feats, attempted to land but as he considered the field too small, he landed in a field about a mile from town…"

According to the July 6, 1923, edition of the now out-of-print Democratic Advocate, "The Fourth of July was celebrated by the fireman holding a parade and fete in this city. In the evening at 6:30 o'clock the Westminster band, Westminster, Hampstead and Manchester fire companies formed into line and paraded through our main streets…"

The adoption of the Declaration of Independence, on July 4, 1776, by the Second Continental Congress, has always been widely celebrated with great fanfare throughout the United States, but Congress did not establish Independence Day as a holiday until 1870.

Coming together to commemorate the tumultuous events of the American War for Independence must have developed, in part, to celebrate the success of our nation against overwhelming odds.

By the time the colonies send representatives to meet as the Second Continental Congress beginning May 10, 1775, the "Great War for the Empire" — as it was being referred to in England — had deteriorated into the American Revolution, beginning with the haphazard Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775.

By June 1776, the colonists in New England had been fighting the war, essentially by themselves, and there was consideration that perhaps Congress might give them a hand — after a speech or two, of course. Up until this time, the colonialists had lost practically every engagement with England.

The Second Continental Congress met from May 10, 1775, to March 1, 1781. Shortly after it convened they went about two tasks — on June 14, 1775, Congress created the "Continental Army" and appointed George Washington as the "commander in chief" the next day.

Congress decided to form a committee on June 11, 1776, to draft a proclamation that the colonies desired to completely sever ties with England.

The final Declaration of Independence, as we know it today, was approved several minutes after 11 p.m. on July 4 — in a secret session of Congress.

The Declaration of Independence was essentially drafted by Thomas Jefferson. His draft document was subsequently revised 86 times before it was signed on Aug. 8.

According to research for the Historical Society of Carroll County by Jay Graybeal, "During the 19th century, July 4th was a popular community holiday filled with parades, patriotic speeches, dinners and seemingly endless toasts. One wonders how those who attended the 1842 Westminster celebration felt the following morning after an evening of 26 toasts…"

Whether it is in the Middle East, and in more than 120 countries throughout the world, American men and women in uniform unflinchingly serve our country and make sacrifices so that we may enjoy the holiday.

Please join me in thanking these selfless heroes.

Happy Fourth of July, and may God Bless America.

When he is not enjoying a hot dog while watching the fireworks at the Carroll County Ag Center, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.