This is the date commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, political speeches and ceremonies, and various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States.
Independence Day is a national holiday marked by patriotic displays. Similar to other summer-themed events, Independence Day celebrations often take place outdoors. Independence Day is a federal holiday, so all non-essential federal institutions (like the postal service and federal courts) are closed on that day. Many politicians make it a point on this day to appear at a public event to praise the nation's heritage, laws, history, society, and people.
Families often celebrate Independence Day by hosting or attending a picnic or barbecue and take advantage of the day off and, in some years, long weekend to gather with relatives. Decorations (e.g., streamers, balloons, and clothing) are generally colored red, white, and blue, the colors of the American flag. Parades often are in the morning, while fireworks displays occur in the evening at such places as parks, fairgrounds, or town squares.
50 years to the day of the signing of the Declaration of Independence first Thomas Jefferson (The man who penned the words) then John Adams died. Without realizing that his friend Thomas had already died, John Adams' last words were:
"Thomas Jefferson survives."
On this day, 55 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and 5 years after the deaths of both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, former President James Monroe died. Thus so far 3 American President have died on July 4th.
As the American people went to bed on 3 July 1976 with dreams of the celebrations to come the next day, the men of the Sayeret Matkal, Sayeret Tzanhanim and Sayeret Golani were sent on an important mission to Uganda. Their mission: To rescue 105 Jewish and Israeli hostages being held by the PLO at Entebbe airport, Uganda.
On June 27, 1976, four terrorists forced an Air France Airbus to land in Uganda, in the heart of distant Africa. They quickly demanded that Israel release 53 convicted terrorists. The hijackers freed the French crew and nonJewish passengers, while retaining 105 Jewish and Israeli hostages. A 48hour deadline was set before executions would begin.1 IDF Commando was killed, 5 were wounded. 4 hostages were killed in the attack, 10 hostages were wounded. 7 Hijackers, and 45 Ugandan troops were killed. 11 Ugandan aircraft were destroyed.
Faced with little choice, the Israeli government announced that it would enter into negotiations. This bought the precious time needed to consolidate a seemingly impossible military option. A new ultimatum was issued for 13:00 on Sunday, July 4.
The only airplane capable of a rescue operation was the C130 Hercules. On July 1, the mission's overall commander, Brig. General Dan Shomron (later to become the IDF ChiefofStaff), presented his plan to the IDF Commander and Israel's Defense Minister. The next day they all witnessed a fullscale dress rehearsal. The incredible was deemed possible.
Shomron's plan was based on several advantages that the Israelis had over the terrorists. The Entebbe airport at which the hostages were being held was built by an Israeli construction firm, which was able to provide Shomron with blueprints. Moreover, the released, non-Jewish hostages were able to describe the terrorists, their arms, and their positioning. As a result, the IDF decided to send in an overwhelmingly powerful force: over 200 of the best soldiers the army had to offer participated in the raid, all of them heavily armed.
Finally, the element of surprise was probably the biggest edge that Israel held. According to Shomron: "You had more than 100 people sitting in a small room, surrounded by terrorists with their fingers on the trigger. They could fire in a fraction of a second. we had to fly seven hours, land safely, drive to the terminal area where the hostages were being held, get inside, and eliminate all the terrorists before any of them could fire." The fact that no one expected the Israelis to take such risks was precisely the reason that they took them.
The aircraft took off at 13:20 on July 3 and headed south. Only then was the plan revealed to the Israeli Cabinet, which decided to let the operation continue. The lead Hercules carried the rescue force, led by Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu. It also held two jeeps and the now famous black Mercedes, a perfect copy of dictator Idi Amin's personal car. Two additional Hercules carried reinforcements and troops assigned to carry out special missions, such as destroying the Migs parked nearby. A fourth Hercules was sent to evacuate the hostages.
The air package also included two Boeing 707's. One acted as a forward command post. The second, outfitted as an airborne hospital, landed in nearby Nairobi, Kenya. The Hercules was escorted by F4 Phantoms as far as possible-about onethird the distance.
Skirting thunderstorms over Lake Victoria, the Hercules transports neared the end of the 7 hour, 40 minute flight. A surprise awaited them: the runway lights were on! Despite this, they landed undetected at 23:01 (local time), only one minute past their planned arrival time.
The soldiers freed the hostages in a lightning attack, killing all eight terrorists in the process. Tragically, force commander Yoni Netanyahu was killed as he led the hostages toward the safety of the aircraft; additionally, two hostages were killed in the crossfire inside the airport. The other squads accomplished their missions in virtually the same time as during the "dryrun." By 23:59 the planes were on their way home. The operation, which was predicted to last one hour, in fact took only 58 minutes.
July 4, a date that will always be associated with FREEDOM!!!!
HAPPY JULY 4TH!
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