Christmas has presents, Thanksgiving has a turkey, and Halloween has costumes. Each holiday we celebrate has its own tradition. So why does the Fourth of July have fireworks? Why don’t we hold parties to knit American Flags instead?
Although the Fourth of July didn’t become an official holiday until 1870, nearly 100 years after the signing of The Declaration of Independence, we can thank the second President of the United States, John Adams, for the suggestion of how Americans should celebrate the fourth. Around 1817, Adams wrote about The Fourth of July:
“I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.” He went on to write, “It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other…”
Soon after The Declaration of Independence was conceived in 1776 by our founding fathers, it was read publicly, and supporters of the War of Independence erupted in cheers and celebrations. In 1777 in Philadelphia those celebrations were done with ringing bells, guns fired, and firecrackers. However with the country in its infancy at that time, Fourth of July celebrations were not common. It took Adams’ writings almost a century later, along with the re-circulation of the signed declaration throughout the nation, to jump-start the traditions of the Fourth of July.
The original, smaller celebrations in the 1770’s, and the later, more formal celebrations were separated by so many years, yet it seems we were destined to celebrate the Fourth of July with spectacular explosions of some type.
So while you are enjoying fireworks this Fourth of July take a moment to remember those founding fathers who took enormous risk in declaring our independence and how that has shaped the United States into the greatest country in the world. But also take a moment to thank John Adams for prompting Americans to celebrate our freedoms and liberties in the loudest and proudest way possible. Without that we might be celebrating The Fourth of July in silence.
Contributed by Jeff Vice.