This Fourth of July marks America’s 247th Independence Day—a day for all citizens to come together and celebrate the nation’s hard-earned freedom. This year, revelers will be taking to the streets for exciting parades, backyard barbecues with mouth-watering dishes, an ice-cold brew or two, and of course, beautiful fireworks displays against the night sky. Join in the celebrations as Americans everywhere commemorate our collective independence!
3 Things to Know:
On July 4th, 1776, the Second Continental Congress formally declared America’s independence from Great Britain through unanimous adoption of the Declaration of Independence. While there was a spontaneous celebration of the first anniversary of this historic document in Philadelphia, its nation-wide observance and celebrations didn’t become a regular occurrence until after the War of 1812.
Since then, America has embraced the Fourth of July as an integral part of its national identity. Landmark events such as the groundbreaking ceremonies for the Erie Canal and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad have been scheduled to coincide with these special festivities. This momentous day honors the bravery of those who fought for liberty and justice more than two centuries ago, and serves as an inspiring reminder that America is still devoted to upholding these values today.
On the Fourth of July, Americans around the nation flock to watch dazzling displays as pyrotechnics fill their neighborhoods with dazzling lights and thunderous booms. But this tradition of fireworks spans centuries—so where did it come from?
It turns out Founding Father John Adams had a vision for our Independence Day commemoration, writing to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776 that we ought to “solemnize with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forevermore.”
However, these rituals of colorful illumination existed long before the United States was born: historians believe that fireworks first originated in ancient China during the second century BC, when air pockets within hollow bamboo stalks would burst with loud bangs due to the intense heat. This form of public entertainment reached Europe by the 15th century, and early US settlers continued on these traditions.
For centuries now, firework displays have captured many hearts with awe-inspiring spectacles, furthering Adams’ vision of national celebration—and reminding us all why Independence Day is so special.
3. Has Any President Ever Refused to Celebrate?
As America celebrates the Fourth of July, one name stands out among the commanders-in-chief from George Washington to Joe Biden: Adams. The nation’s second president refused to mark the holiday on July 4 as he believed July 2 to be the true day of Independence. On that day in 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of a resolution for independence, though it wasn’t officially adopted until two days later.
Adams was so opposed to celebrating on July 4th that he even turned down invitations to events while serving as president. Ironically, Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, both passed away on the 50th anniversary of its formal adoption – July 4th 1826. This Independence Day, take a moment to think back on the founding fathers who shaped our country and the remarkable impact their lives had on history.