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A patriotic holiday by the numbers

The manner in which we observe the Fourth of July, the most American of holidays, involves more than fireworks and backyard barbecues. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, putting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation.

Some interesting numbers about the holiday secured from a variety of sources, including the Census Bureau:

In July 1776, an estimated 2.5 million people lived in the newly independent nation. Our population is estimated at 313.9 million on this July Fourth.

It is a day to fly the American flag. However, many of the flags we will see this holiday will be imports. In 2011, the dollar value of U.S. imports of American flags was $3.6 million, according to foreign trade statistics.

Of that amount, $3.3 million was for U.S. flags made in China. The dollar value of U.S. flags exported in 2011 was $663,071. Mexico was the leading customer, purchasing $80,349 worth.

The dollar value of shipments of fabricated flags, banners and similar emblems by the nation’s manufacturers in 2007 was $302.7 million, according to the latest published economic census statistics. The value of fireworks imported from China last year was $232.3 million, representing the bulk of all U.S. fireworks imported – $223.4 million. U.S. exports of fireworks, by comparison, came to just $15.8 million in 2011, with Australia purchasing more than any other country at $4.5 million.

On the trade deficit scale, the value of U.S. manufacturers’ shipments of fireworks and pyrotechnics — including flares, igniters, etc. — in 2007 totaled $231.8 million.

We have up-to- date records on the value of imports, yet the latest statistical information on some exports is five years old. No one in Washington can explain why, but it gives one something to ponder while waiting on the grill to warm up for a holiday lunch.

A search for patriotic-sounding places is a bit easier.

Thirty-one places have “liberty” in their names. The most populous one as of April 1, 2010, was Liberty, Mo. (29,149). Iowa, with four, has more of these places than any other state: Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty and West Liberty.

Thirty-five places have “eagle” in their names, according to the American FactFinder. The most populous one is Eagle Pass, Texas, with a population of 26,248.

Eleven places have “independence” in their names. The most populous one is Independence, Mo., with a population of 116,830.

Nine places have “freedom” in their names. The most populous one is New Freedom, Pa., with a population of 4,464.

One place has “patriot” in its name. Patriot, Ind., has a population of 209.

Five places have “America” in their names. The most populous is American Fork, Utah, with a population of 26,263.

The British, our adversary in 1776, are our sixth-leading trading partner today. Dollar value of trade last year between the United States and the United Kingdom was $107.1 billion.

The odds are that the hot dogs and pork sausages consumed on the Fourth of July originated in Iowa. The state was home to 19.7 million hogs and pigs on March 1, 2012, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

If beef hot dogs, steaks and burgers end up on a backyard grill, chances are the meat came from Texas, which accounted for about one-sixth of the nation’s total production.

However, Arkansas ranks No. 2 as the source of your barbecued chicken.

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Larry Fugate is a veteran journalist and former editor of The Pine Bluff Commercial. He can be reached by e-mail at fugatel@sbcglobal.net or at (870) 329-7010.