“You’re a grand old flag,
You’re a high-flying flag.
And forever in peace may you wave.
You’re the emblem of the land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev’ry heart beats true
‘Neath the Red, White and Blue...”
—George M. Cohan
On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence from England. Days later the delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, the historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson.
Since that day, we as a country have celebrated the Fourth of July as the birth of American independence. On this day we remember our forefathers who fought for that independence, which includes militia hero General Joseph Dimmick of Falmouth.
During the Revolutionary War he faced down privateers at Tarpaulin Cove and on April 2, 1779, 200 Falmouth residents built trenches near Old Stone Dock at Surf Drive Beach and kept 10 British Man of War ships at bay. They were bombarded by cannon fire all day.
At the Falmouth Post Office Gen. Dimmick is depicted in a painting done in 1943 by Karl Oberteuffer; he is the gentleman to the far left of the painting.
I remember as a child going to my grandmother’s friends, the Farnum sisters, who lived in a historic home on Thomas Lane complete with a cannon that had ripped through the attic wall. We, of course, were fascinated by this bit of Falmouth history.
In 1870 the US Congress made July 4th a federal holiday.
On June 20 at 6:34 PM summer officially began. However, for most of us, summer truly begins in the days leading up to the July 4th weekend.
I have noticed over the past couple of days the familiar sight of cars rolling into town, loaded down with kids, suitcases, dogs hanging out the windows, bikes, kayaks, surfboards tied tightly to the roof of the car.
Flags and bunting are going up all over town and on neighborhood houses. Small flags line gardens and driveways. Red, white and blue gardens are being planted.
It is a very special time for friends and family to share in the generational traditions of Fourth of July celebrations.
I spoke with Meg Costello at the Falmouth Historical Society along with Mark Schmidt, the director, and they told me that Dick Jones, a longtime Quissett resident, and his friends cooked up the idea for the now-famous Quissett Fourth of July parade in the late 1940s. It, as well as the Woods Hole parade, have become lifelong traditions for many local residents. And, of course, there is the militia reenactment on the morning of the 4th on the Village Green in Falmouth, before the Falmouth parade begins down Main Street.
After the parades, the cookouts and celebrations, we all settle in on front porches or town beaches or some venture out on their boats to watch the spectacular fireworks display over Vineyard Sound.
We think of past July 4ths and our loved ones who are no longer with us. We smile as we look at the youngest members of families, as they sit in awe as the fireworks explode with streaming colors against the summer night sky.
When the national anthem is played, we sing along with pride and think about how blessed we are to call this wonderful country home.