Posted: 8:10 am Monday, July 4th, 2016
By Jamie Dupree
As the United States of America celebrates 240 years since the issuing of the Declaration of Independence and the creation of this nation, Congress is already looking ahead to our 250th birthday and the celebration that will follow.
I’m old enough to remember all the energy surrounding the “Bicentennial” from 1976, marking 200 years of the U.S.A. – I started wondering recently, what are we going to call the 250th birthday of America?
It looks like the Congress has decided to use the word “semiquincentennial” – that’s the term in legislation that will be before the House this week, and a similar measure that has already been approved by the Senate.
But you can find some cities and towns in the United States – which have been around since before July 4, 1776, using a different word to mark their own 250th anniversary:
“Sestercentennial” is their preferred term.
That’s being used right now by the town of Westminster, Maryland:
Five years ago, the town of Guildhall, Vermont was struggling with a term for its own 250th anniversary as well.
“Sestercentennial, Bicenquinquagenary, Quarter Millennium or Semiquincentennial, what will it be,” the town Facebook page asked.
It’s not hard to figure out that “Bicenquinquagenary” would be a tongue twister of a term, but it’s been used before – like in 1999, by Washington and Lee University to mark its 250th anniversary.
Princeton University used the same word a few years before that.
Back in 2009, “Bicenquinquagenary” was used in legislation in the Congress, as lawmakers took the first steps to figure out how to organize and celebrate for the nation’s 250th anniversary.
That bill – bearing the term “Bicenquinquagenary” didn’t go anywhere in the Congress in 2009 – and that’s probably why it won’t be the official term in 2026.
I mean, I’m in radio – just try to say Bicenquinquagenary a few times.
Instead, “semiquincentennial” seems to be the word of choice for 2026.
So, you’ve got ten years to get used to it – The Semiquincentennial, on July 4, 2026.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.