As Americans celebrate July 4, 2018, the 242nd birthday of the nation, public and private preparations are already underway to mark the 250th anniversary of the independence of the United States of America, what will be officially known as the "Semiquincentennial," on July 4, 2026.
Leading the planning is a special federal panel, known as the "United States Semiquincentennial Commission" - their work will be supplemented by a non-profit organization, the American Battlefield Trust, which works to preserve battlefields and historic sites from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War.
Philadelphia - home to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell - is the unofficial center of the work on the Semiquincentennial, as the state of Pennsylvania has also established its own special panel to help with those 250th year celebrations.
It took a few years for the feds to figure out exactly what to call July 4, 2026 - the 250th anniversary didn't have a convenient name like "Bicentennial" for the 200 year celebration of the United States, in 1976.
Some towns and groups have used names like Sestercentennial, Quarter Millennium, or (my favorite) Bicenquinquagenary to mark a 250th anniversary celebration - but the official designation of the Congress went for "Semiquincentennial," which technically means half (semi) of five (quin) of a century - so that gets you to 250 years.
For those who might not have been around in 1976 for the Bicentennial - it was a very big deal, and one would expect 2026 and the Semiquincentennial will be much the same.
"I feel both pride and humility, rejoicing and reverence as I stand in the place where two centuries ago the United States of America was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," President Gerald Ford said at Independence Hall on July 4, 1976, as he marked the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
"Altogether, of the 56 men who signed our great Declaration, five were taken prisoner, 12 had their homes sacked, two lost their sons, nine died in the war itself," President Ford said in his 1976 speech.
"Those men knew what they were doing. In the final stirring words of the Declaration, they pledged to one another "our lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." And when liberty was at stake, they were willing to pay the price."
A century earlier, on July 4, 1876, President Ulysses Grant urged Americans to not only celebrate the 100th anniversary of independence, but also thank higher powers for the evolution of the United States of America.
"It seems fitting that on the occurrence of the hundredth anniversary of our existence as a nation a grateful acknowledgment should be made to Almighty God for the protection and the bounties which He has vouchsafed to our beloved country," President Grant wrote in a proclamation.