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Column: The 5th of July
Martin Cahn (2019).jpg
Martin L. Cahn

As noted in our editorial, Kershaw County celebrated America’s 243rd birthday on Thursday. On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to declare independence from England. Two days later, on July 4, 1776, independence was officially declared, marking the birth of a new country out of the 13 original colonies.

But what happened the next day?

The biggest thing I could find is that on July 5, 1776, John Hancock, who was president of the Continental Congress, dispatched the first of what were known as the Dunlap Broadsides. Named for John Dunlap, who printed 24 copies of the Declaration of Independence. On July 5, Hancock had the first two sent to the New Jersey and Delaware legislatures.

Exactly one year earlier -- July 5, 1775 -- the Continental Congress had adopted the Olive Branch Petition. At this point, the colonies were trying to avoid all-out war with Great Britain. However, British officers intercepted a letter John Adams wrote to a friend saying the petition was useless and war was inevitable. They sent on news of its contents to England that arrived at about the same time as the petition. That led King George to refuse the petition and declare that the colonies were in rebellion.

Later July 5ths are interesting, too.

For instance, July 5, 1811, is the date a congress of provinces signed the Venezuelan Declaration of Independence, separating itself from Spain. The day is known as Cinco de Julio.

Skipping up to the 1900s, we find that on July 5, 1915, the Liberty Bell left Philadelphia on a special train to be taken to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition -- a world’s fair held in San Francisco to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal and the city’s recovery from the great 1906 earthquake.

For those of you who love this particular ... ahem ... edible, Hormel introduced Spam to the world on July 5, 1937.

For those of you keep up with summer fashion history, it was on July 5, 1946, that the bikini goes on sale for the first time.

For those of you who are fans of the King, Elvis Presley recorded his first single, “That’s All Right,” at Sun Records in Memphis on July 5, 1954.

Algeria declared its independence from France on July 5, 1962.

President Richard Nixon signs the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, on July 5, 1971.

July 5, 1975, is the date Arthur Ashe became the first black man to win the Wimbledon singles title.

On that same day, Cape Verde gained its independence from Portugal.

And then, there’s this:

On July 5, 2000, 19 years ago, I began working here at the Chronicle-Independent.

That is nowhere as important as the issuance of the Dunlap Broadsides, Arthur Ashe’s victory or even the birth of Spam luncheon meat. However, it’s important to me.

Journalism is the career I have been in longer than any other by five years (I was in radio broadcasting for 14). Working at the C-I is the longest I’ve worked for a single employer by about 16 years.

I moved into Kershaw County around this time in 1999. From 2002 to 2005, I lived in Irmo to be closer to family, but have been back ever since. That is a total of 17 years living in one county (Cassatt, then Elgin and, finally, Camden) -- far more than any one place I have ever lived.

I have said before and will repeat once again that coming to the C-I was a personal Independence Day for me.

I had been working at a major insurance company as an administrative assistant for a total of five years (the first year as a temp). By the end of that fifth year, I was working for two managers the same time due to budget cuts. These two people were like night and day when it came to management style -- I was being pulled in opposite directions and pretty much being driven crazy.

I had been contemplating striking out on my own as a communications consultant despite not having a real plan, but things got so bad that I actually gave my two weeks notice before learning I’d gotten the job as a reporter at the C-I.

Some people would say that the “independence” part of any Independence Day is being on your own. That hasn’t been the case for me these last 19 years.

Independence is about freedom and for 19 years, I have had the freedom to write, which is something I love; the freedom to meet and talk with hundreds, if not thousands, of people by now, who I would have, otherwise, never gotten to meet; and to express my opinion on all sorts of issues like I probably would not have if I hadn’t come to work here.

From reporter to assistant editor to editor, I have had the freedom to do what I love. Not many people get to say that.

For this, I’m grateful to celebrate my 5th of July.