It’s the Fourth of July, and that means meat skewers fresh off the grill, fireworks, baseball and patriotically colored cocktails!
But the 4th stands for much more than an excuse to BBQ. After all, it’s Independence Day – the day we celebrate when we fought the redcoats and gained our freedom to create the United States of America…or something like that, right?
What you might not have known about this holiday is that the 4th wasn’t supposed to be particularly special. The Second Continental Congress ACTUALLY voted to approve the resolution of Independence on July 2nd, 1776. This was such a momentous occasion that John Adams wrote to his wife:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. 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.
Close, but no cigar. Instead of July 2, we commemorate the actual signing of the Declaration of Independence, which did indeed occur on July 4th, 1776, even though the founding fathers had already decided to step away from Great Britain two days earlier.
The 4th of July has been celebrated in the United States since 1777, but it wasn’t considered to be a national holiday until 1870. The 4th was an unpaid holiday back then, though, so the birth of our nation certainly wasn’t celebrated by sleeping in. You can be sure that Americans rejoiced heartily in 1938 when Congress voted to make the day a paid federal holiday.
To this day, there’s no place that celebrates the 4th quite like New England. Bristol, Rhode Island is home to the Bristol Fourth of July Parade, which was first held in 1785, making it the oldest Independence Day parade in the nation. And the Boston Pops has hosted the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular over the Charles River Esplanade in Massachusetts each year since 1973, and it can be seen for miles down the Charles River.
But who could forget NYC? The famous Macy’s firework show is held each year over the Hudson River and it is the largest in the nation (Mr. Macy practically owns the months of July and November).
Unfurl your flags and oil your brass instruments, because it’s a great day for John Philip Sousa! We’ll take today to listen to The Stars and Stripes Forever enough times to turn us off of the march for the next 364 days, and we’ll love every minute of it.
Turn up your stereos, light your sparklers, and kick back. America was born today!