When most people in America think about Independence Day, it conjures up visions of backyard barbecues complete with ice cold beer and grilled hot dogs before the whole family heads out to watch a fireworks show. Though this is certainly the traditional way that Americans now celebrate Independence Day, it has absolutely nothing to do with the reasons we celebrate in the first place. But with a little research, you can easily put together the pieces and see the big picture of what this holiday is and why it is so important to our nation.
Why We Celebrate
Most Americans are aware that the Declaratio0n of Independence was adopted on in July of 1776 and that is the basis of why we celebrate the Independence Day. What most people don’t know is that the Declaration of Independence was actually voted on by Congress on July 2nd, which has been a subject of debate for many decades of why we don’t celebrate on that date. However, the declaration wasn’t formally adopted into law until July 4th and that is why we celebrate on that particular date. The first time the Declaration of Independence was read publicly was on July 8th, but most people agree that the actual voting, signing, and subsequent adoption of the law was much more historic than when it became public knowledge.
Most people associate fireworks with Independence Day, so almost everyone takes this tradition for granted. Let’s face it; it’s really fun to light things on fire and blow things up, so handing out fireworks to everyone is a whole lot of fun. However, there is actually a great historic reason why we all light sparklers in our backyards and head to large fireworks shows each year on the 4th of July, and the notion was actually conjured up by one of the most notorious politicians in US history.
John Adams, the second President of the United States, wrote a letter to his wife Abigail on the 3rd of July speaking of the Declaration of Independence. In the letter, he explained that he believed the day would be celebrated from coast to coast with great enthusiasm and large parties. He also noted “It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” In modern day times, the “bonfires and illuminations” have translated into fireworks and the tradition has remained ever since.
Though Independence Day wasn’t formally acknowledged as a Federal holiday until 1870, our country began celebrating on this day in 1777 with 13 gunshots fired in honor of our 13 states. Though our country’s traditions have certainly changed and become much more involved through the decades, the same principal still remains as true today as it did almost 250 years ago. America is a great and free country and everyone celebrates its birth on a single day each year. It’s important to know the history of the United States, and without understanding the history of Independence Day that is simply not possible.