There is that old joke that asks whether countries like Canada or Mexico celebrate the Fourth of July, and the answer is that every country has a Fourth of July. I think that it makes a lot more sense to celebrate our national Independence Day and that it does not really matter on which date.

For starters, according to the International Business Times and several other websites, only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Most of them signed it on Aug. 2. John Adams foresaw that July 2, the day that the Second Continental Congress voted to declare independence from Britain, would be the day on which Americans would celebrate their freedom.

“The Second Day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha in the history of America,” he wrote.

The major problem with everyone celebrating on the same day is that it causes conflicts between neighboring cities that result in competition for visitors to watch evening celebrations and attend day time activities.

What makes much more sense is for neighboring cities to spread out the celebrations by offering them on different weekends, just like Leavenworth and Lansing are doing again this year. Leavenworth and Fort Leavenworth will offer a major party on Tuesday, July 4, and Lansing will have a celebration party on Friday, June 30.

That way people can choose to go to both parties and not have to pick between one or the other. Although its not the same reason for a party, when we lived in Germany, there were community celebrations on every weekend during the summer and every community was able to benefit from the increased activity in their towns on those weekends.

Another example is the separation and sharing of celebrations in Door County in Wisconsin. Each of the picturesque little lakeside towns is way too small to fight for and to host a huge celebration, so they cooperate and share celebrations all summer long in different communities on different weekends. It brings in more tourism which is shared among all of the communities instead of a bitter fight for one big party. 

I think that people choose to avoid all of the parties when it gets too competitive anyway. I suspect that was the case when Leavenworth and Lansing shared the same day for the Independence Day celebration years ago. I know that we chose to stay home instead of being torn between going to one or the other. Go to the fort for a great patriotic day or stay in Lansing because we live here? Not a fair choice to be forced to make. Thank goodness that cooler heads have prevailed in the last few years and now we can go to both celebrations.

Did you know that nearly 90 percent of American flags are made in China and that nearly 100 percent of the fireworks are also made in China? That’s probably not a terribly important bit of information, but it seems to reflect the times.

I think that there are about 10 good weekends in the typical American summer and I think that communities should spread out the wealth and hold Independence Day celebrations throughout the summer. Just like in Germany, people would learn to pick a schedule of celebrations to attend in an entire region. We enjoyed the few beer gardens with tents and great food and drinks that we had the chance to enjoy while we were there.

American Independence Day is important and fun to celebrate, but it should be a shared experience across multiple weekends in the summer and not a competitive event between cities. I would bet that sharing it over multiple weekends in a region actually results in greater tourism spending as it gives people an excuse to drive to new locations for a great party with a great purpose.

Matt Nowak is a retired natural resources specialist and lives in Lansing.