It's Independence Day, which for most people means enjoying fireworks, hot dogs and parades while reflecting on the history of America and its freedom, an idea many agree should be taken more seriously.
Though most might understand the general concept of the Fourth of July, it may not always be so easy for everyone to recall what the symbols of the American flag mean or what the amendments to the Constitution are.
Today, a trio of veterans from the American Legion will gather at noon in the Post 64 ballroom in Marietta to read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence aloud in the hopes of playing a small role in increasing local knowledge of America's history.
"(We) laughed about how we're pretty typical of people who made it through the average history class," said Bruce Haas, a U.S. Air Force veteran and American Legion member who helped start the event last year. "I took American history, but I had never read these all the way through."
The trio that includes Haas, former U.S. Marine John Spear and former U.S. Army soldier Randy Kintz of the McConnelsville American Legion will take turns reading the two documents in their entireties.
"Everyone will have a copy of that booklet that has the entire file of the original text of the Declaration and the Constitution, and there's nothing left out," Haas said. "We also have a list of commonly confused words and sayings that are a part of those two documents."
Independence Day quiz
1. What do the 13 stripes on the American Flag stand for?
2. What do the 50 stars on the American Flag stand for?
3. What year was the Declaration of Independence signed?
4. Who wrote the Star Spangled Banner?
5. Who is rumored to have sewn the first American Flag?
6. How many amendments to the Constitution are there?
7. What is the collective term for the first 10 amendments?
8. What are the three functioning branches of the U.S. government?
Answers: 1. The 13 original U.S. colonies. 2. The 50 U.S. states. 3. 1776. 4. Francis Scott Key. 5. Betsy Ross. 6. 27. 7. The Bill of Rights. 8. Legislative, Executive, Judicial.
Haas said in its inaugural year, the group expected about a dozen people, and were surprised to see about 50.
"We need to be aware of our history so it doesn't happen again," he said. "In the course of human history, America is very unique and very young, and it's precious."
Locals walking the streets of downtown Marietta Thursday had a decent handle on basic facts about the American flag, as eight of 10 people stopped on the street knew that the 13 stripes on the flag stood for the 13 original colonies, compared to all 10 who knew that the 50 stars represented all 50 states.
"I admit I probably do not know enough American history, but that doesn't mean it isn't important," said Bob Seevers, 50, of Marietta. "But I appreciate that Marietta has all the celebrations it does, because it's good for our town."
Into the realm of the Constitution, just four of 10 people Thursday could identify the Bill of Rights as the term used to describe the first 10 amendments of the Constitution.
"I'm not sure most people could answer that, though they should," said Sharon Casto, 61, of Marietta. "You need to know where you came from to know where you need to go."
Rebecca Place, 48, also of Marietta, said her biggest concern is that children are learning less and less in school when it comes to American history.
"Kids don't know enough anymore, because they're saying the Pledge of Allegiance and (hearing) the National Anthem less and less," she said.
Crowds of people stand up at sporting events for the Star Spangled Banner, and many can and will sing right along, but only half of the 10 people surveyed in Marietta remembered that it was Francis Scott Key who penned it.
"I think there were times when people knew this a lot more, but times have changed," Casto said.
Jeremy Barton, 34, of Coal Run, said he tries to keep himself sharp on those kinds of topics.
"There's an importance in understanding the past, and I don't think a lot of people know enough to get by," he said.
As Marietta and the rest of the country celebrates the nation's freedom from Great Britain, the skeptics might breathe a sigh of relief knowing that nine of 10 people knew, without hesitation, that the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776.
"With the way things are today, it's hit or miss to whether a person can answer questions like that," said Mike Combs, 35, of Parkersburg. "I feel like most people could, at least half."
Haas said he hopes the trio's reading of the documents can be both interesting as well as informative, as knowing the content of the documents is important, but being able to actually understand what they mean is even more so.
"To read it, you can really understand why they wanted that war and why they wanted that independence, and that's important," he said.