A Brief History
On July 4, 2017, most Americans will be reminded that today is the National Birthday, the date back in 1776 when the United States was born. We take this patriotic opportunity to list some of the Red, White and Blue Americans who were born on this special date.
1. Ulysses S. Grant III, General.
Born in Chicago in 1881, this chip off the old block was the grandson of former general and President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant. This Grant graduated 6th in his class at West Point in 1903 (the same year Douglas MacArthur finished #1) and went on to a career in the US Army until 1946, attaining the rank of Major General. He died in 1968.
2. Ron Kovic, Author, Marine.
Kovic served as a Marine Corps sergeant during the Vietnam War, getting shot in the foot and in the shoulder in combat, resulting in permanent paralysis from chest down. Kovic became and anti-war activist, and wrote the famous book, Born on the Fourth of July in 1976. His book was made into a movie by the same name starring Tom Cruise as Kovic in 1989. Kovic was arrested 12 times during protests of the Vietnam War.
3. Stephen Foster, Songwriter/Composer.
Born in 1826, Foster is often called “The Father of American Music.” Some of his famous compositions include, “Camptown Races,” “Old Folks at Home,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Oh Susanna,” and “Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair.” Tragically, this great American icon died at the age of 37 in New York City of a fever from unknown causes.
4. Morganna, Kissing Bandit.
A stripper (exotic dancer for the squeamish) with gigantic breasts (“she made Dolly Parton look developmentally delayed”), Morganna, born in 1954 as Morganna Roberts, achieved her greatest fame as the denizen of major league baseball games (what’s more American than baseball?) by running onto the field and kissing a player before running off the field. With measurements of 60-23-39 she was sure to attract attention, starting her baseball “career” in 1969. Morganna, talented girl she was, branched out into other venues, and by 1990 compiled a record of kissing 37 major league baseball players, 12 NBA basketball players, and a host of other minor league type baseball, hockey, and basketball players, coaches, managers, and even mascots! Her profession as Kissing Bandit led to at least 20 arrests, being pounded by security guards, and hurting herself jumping on the field out of the stands. Morganna parlayed her Kissing Bandit persona into making millions of dollars (hey, that is All American, too!), with entertainment shows, appearing in Playboy Magazine, appearing on trading (aka, bubblegum) cards, exotic dancing and a host of other activities. She retired in 1999 and lives in Ohio. Oh, and her picture appeared in a display at the Baseball Hall of Fame!
5. Calvin Coolidge, US President.
Born in 1872, “Silent Cal” went on to become the 30th US President, whom Ronald Reagan referred to as “My favorite president.” A Republican born in Vermont, Cal was a lawyer and held numerous political offices until becoming President in 1923 when President Harding died. Coolidge was elected to a term of his own, and died at the age of 60 in 1933.
6. Rube Goldberg, Cartoonist, etc.
Born in 1883 as Reuben Goldberg to a Jewish family in San Francisco, Rube went to Berkeley and earned an engineering degree. Hired as an engineer by the City of San Francisco, Goldberg achieved fame and fortune as a cartoonist drawing complicated contraptions, earning the status as “America’s favorite cartoonist.” Making a whopping (for the time) salary of $25,000 per year in 1915, he was offered $50,000 a year by the Hearst newspaper chain, but stayed with the New York Evening Mail who matched the offer. Goldberg became involved in comic movies, as in the 1930 film, Soup to Nuts. The term, “Rube Goldberg,” has come to be an adjective for any unlikely looking overly-complicated device, usually a derisive or comic reference. Goldberg died in 1970.
7. Floyd Little, Football Star.
Born in 1942, Little was a 3 time All-American at Syracuse as a running back, and was drafted in 1967 by the Denver Broncos where he was known as “The Franchise.” A superb player and teammate, Little retired in 1975 as the 7th highest rushing yardage gainer in NFL history. Little was of such good character, that he was a Bronco’s team captain all 9 years of his pro career, even his rookie year! In 2010 Little was voted into the Football Hall of Fame. Little also has a fine brain to go with his athletic body, earning a Masters degree in Legal Administration from the University of Denver in 1975.
8. Michael Sorrentino, Reality TV star.
Perhaps you know him better by his moniker, “The Situation.” This star of The Jersey Shore made an incredible $5 million in 2010 for his appearances on that show (second only to Kim Kardashian in 2010). Sorry, but the author would describe Mike as nearly totally without any discernible talent, but that does not stop him from appearing on numerous television shows, specials, and special events. He even competed on Dancing with The Stars. Sadly, this American icon is accused of engaging in another All American activity, tax evasion, and was charged with not paying taxes on $8.9 million in 2014 and is currently facing more tax evasion charges in 2017.
9. Josh McCown, Football Quarterback.
A standout at Sam Houston State, McCown has an undistinguished record in the NFL where he has played since being drafted by the Cardinals in 2002. He rates high marks for his All American Efforts by sticking with pro football for 16 seasons, in which he has played for an incredible 10 NFL teams, as well as a stint in 2010 with the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League. McCown is currently a member of the New York Jets. Josh signed with the Cleveland Browns in 2015 for 3 years for $14 million, which is some indication that he certainly has some talent and is valued as a mentor for younger quarterbacks. Luke McCown, Josh’s brother, is also an NFL quarterback.
10. Pauline Phillips, Esther Phillips, Advice Columnists.
Born Pauline Friedman in 1918, you know her better by her nom de plume, Dear Abby (Abigail van Buren), and her identical twin sister, born Esther Friedman you know better by her nom de plume, Ann Landers. These twins dominated the advice columns of newspapers across the United States for decades, until Esther died in 2002 (age 83) and Pauline died in 2012 (at the age of 94 after an 11 year battle with Alzheimer’s disease). Esther actually took over as “Ann Landers” in 1955 when the original writer, Ruth Crowley, died. Pauline started her own advice column career in 1956.
Question for students (and subscribers): Who would you add to the list? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Kovic, Ron and Bruce Springsteen. Born on the Fourth of July: 40th Anniversary Edition. Akashic Books, 2016.
The featured image in this article, a 1902 American cartoon by Udo Keppler (1872–1956) about celebrating the Fourth of July, is in the public domain in the United States, because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1924.