The patriot’s guide to a successful Independence Day

Photo by Taylor Alderman | The Collegian Manhattan is home to many firework stands that are selling fireworks until the 4th of July. Youth Leadership Foundation's purple and white tent in the Westloop Shopping Center opened on Tuesday and is selling fireworks from 8:00a.m. to midnight until Independence Day.

Two-hundred and thirty-eight years ago today, a fearsome debate was raging in the halls of the Second Continental Congress who gathered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to discuss, among other things, the idea of American independence. After extensive deliberation, the resolution was adopted on July 4, 1776 and, though they may never have envisioned all the ways future generations would celebrate, it’s time to commemorate that anniversary once again. The question is, which of the influential characters involved in that debate reflects the way you will partake this year?

John Hancock

At the time the Declaration of Independence was signed, John Hancock was the president of the Continental Congress. He presided over the entire debate and would famously sign the declaration in a size that he was sure King George III could read without his glasses. If you’re looking to facilitate a little celebration of your own, you might identify most with Hancock. The only word of advice for future party hosts is, “Don’t forget the bacon.” Whether you decide to serve it solo, on sandwiches, or wrap all your other dishes in it, you can never have too much. It’s also a great time of the year for fresh fruits (bacon wrap optional) to refresh your guests throughout the celebration. Purchasing a couple veggie burgers to put on the grill is also a much-appreciated move for our less carnivorous friends.

John Adams

The loudest voice in Congress was said to belong to John Adams of Massachusetts. Though he was not always popular among his colleagues, Adams was one of the most boisterous advocates for independence at time when it did not have universal support. If you’re the DJ of your gathering or looking to spread some good noise this year, Spotify is home to some great Fourth of July playlists that are sure to please the crowd. Whether it’s classic rock that gets you in a patriotic mood or some wholesome country tunes, be sure to include some sing-along jams to help unite people around your cause.

Benjamin Franklin

Aside from having one of the greatest minds of his day (and ours too), Benjamin Franklin was well-known for being the life of the party. If you’re looking to follow his example and partake in libations this year, you can never go wrong drinking local. Tallgrass Brewing Company in Manhattan offers a wide array of brews to help set the mood. Garrett Paulman, Brewmaster at Tallgrass, suggests picking up their Halcyon Unfiltered Wheat for your celebration of independence.

“It’s a light, refreshing citrus beer,” Paulman said, and it’s brewed with real Kansas-grown grain to ensure an all-American flavor.

If you’re really on a roll, I’d suggest whipping up some special “Don’t Tread on Me” Snakebite shots to show you’re serious. Pass on Canadian liquors this time around and go for some strictly American whiskey and as much lime juice as you need. Just remember, even Franklin knew when to pass the reigns to a sober jockey, so be sure to enjoy with the utmost responsibility.

John Dickinson

John Dickinson of Virginia was not so keen on the idea of American independence, and though he served in the Continental Army, he did not sign the declaration. So, if you’re not so crazy about the festivities or are struggling to declare independence from your couch this year, there are still ways you can celebrate. If you’re looking for more details on how the whole thing went down, The History Channel’s “The Revolution” marathon may be for you. But, if a movie works better for your schedule and attention span, I’ve got three suggestions.

The first is the 1972 film adaptation of the musical “1776.” This true classic follows the story of John Adams as he struggles to deliver a unanimous vote on the resolution that would declare the United States of America a new and independent nation. Played by William Daniels (better known for his later work as Mr. Feeny on the television show “Boy Meets World”), Adams goes through the trials and tribulations of southern conservative opposition, the summer heat and his own reputation to muster the votes needed for independence. The singing is always a few delightful steps flat, and the plot will have you sporting some special, patriotic goosebumps. It’s a brilliant must-see for lovers of America everywhere.

Other films that are sure to be on televisions across the country include “Independence Day” in which the U.S. saves the world from intergalactic doom and “The Sandlot” which is the perfect feel-good summer staple.

Thomas Jefferson

Though he was the author of one of the single most influential pieces of argumentative text ever written, Thomas Jefferson was known for being a quiet leader – especially compared to his fellow congressmen. If you enjoy taking in the action from the sidelines and prefer, as Jefferson did, to spectate the fiery conflict, check out the Wamego Fireworks Show. If you’ve been around Manhattan during this time of year, you’ve probably heard of this outstanding display that has been voted number one in the state. The barrage starts at 10 p.m. and work all the way up to “the finale that never ends.” Check out for more details and reservation information.

George Washington

Finally, if you’re among the countless Americans looking forward to simply “blowing stuff up” this year, you might identify more with George Washington, who was the commander of the Continental Army when the declaration was signed. Under-supplied and under-trained, Washington led the American fighting force to conquer the world’s most powerful military of the era. Unlike the American general, however, you can be well equipped. Manhattan is home to several fireworks stands that are selling all the ammunitions you need to win your personal battle against the redcoats. Timothy Avery, stand manager of the Youth Leadership Foundation’s purple and white tent in the Westloop Shopping Center, said he is looking forward to another big year. Among the top sellers he listed (that will be offered at a special price) are the Excalibur mortar set (number one seller nationwide), the colorful spectacle One Bad Mother and the much-anticipated Folds of Honor which can be found at their stand for $30.

“Part of the proceeds from Folds of Honor will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project,” Avery said, which makes this a great dual-purpose purchase.

Like many of the fireworks stands around the state that raise funds for local charities, the profits from the Youth Leadership Foundation’s stand go to support youth programs.

No matter which of these patriots best embodies your celebration this year, it took the will of each of them, and many more, to deliver American independence, just as it will take all types for you to have a great Fourth of July. Be considerate, be safe and take some time to remember the reason for the season.

Check out the poll online at to let us know who you’ll look to emulate this Independence Day.

Theo Stavropoulos is a recent graduate in human resource management and political science. Please send comments to