The fourth of July celebrates American values such as political freedom. It captures the history and events that facilitated the independence of the American nation. Furthermore, it allows people to support the heritage of the land.
The history of the 4th of July can be traced back to that same date in 1776. It was the day when Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. This piece of paper had been formally declared 2 days ago on the 2nd of July.
Congress had selected a committee in Pennsylvania that would be responsible for creating a document that would tell Britain that the American colonists wanted to rule themselves. After the committee has discussed all the issues they wanted to include the document, they selected Thomas Jefferson to put together those ideas in a draft copy.
Jefferson did this in a number of days and presented the first copy to the committee on the 28th of June. On the 2nd of July, they revised the document and declared America’s independence. The official adoption of the Declaration was on the 4th of July (Burnett, 1941).
It was one month later that all other Congressmen started signing the Declaration of independence. Therefore, the people involved in this document wanted to provide Americans with something that the American citizenry could aspire to; it was something that captured the ideas and goals in their land.
John Adams knew how momentous this event would be to the American people hence his pronouncement that people would celebrate the day with games, guns, bells and parades. His prediction was true, but his date estimation was slightly wrong since he thought that the celebration would be on 2nd of July and not on the 4th of July.
The first formal 4th of July celebration was in 1777 in Philadelphia. This state already had a series of tools that would later be used to remember the event. A number of speeches were made, music and parades were instated. It even had a gun salute to commemorate the day. Residents painted ships with colors of the flag and enjoyed fireworks displays.
Before 1791, the day was simply known as the Fourth of July. However, on this year, it was called Independence Day. In order to involve everyone else in the celebrations, Congress decided to make the day a paid holiday for state employees in 1870. Thereafter, it was decided that the day would be a paid holiday in 1938.
Other events have often coincided with the 4th of July date and have been celebrated on the same day. For instance, New York state declared the 4th of July as emancipation day because this was the same day that they voted to end slavery in 1827.
How, who and why people celebrate the holiday
A number of people will watch baseball games for Independence Day. Major League baseball games are often scheduled on this day, and thus encourage a lot of participation. In those matches, many of them will buy hotdogs to enjoy during the game. They will also purchase ice cream for fun during the event.
The eating of hotdogs began in 1916 during a hotdog eating contest. Four New York immigrants wanted to prove to each other that they were the most patriotic so they participated in a hot dog eating contests. Hot dog eating competitions have become a common occurrence in that part of the country ever since.
Alternatively, people can gather together to watch fireworks displays. Certain cities or states are known for the consistency and enormity of their celebration. For instance, New York has a televised fireworks display that started in 1976 and continues to date. In Detroit, a fireworks display is held on the 4th of July in order to remember Independence Day as well as honor Canada day.
One of the most common ways to celebrate that event is to visit Coney Island Beach or listen to bands playing “The stars and stripes”. This tradition of celebrating the day began in 1897 when John Sousa and his band were performing in Coney Island.
Tourists who had come to the beach were the first to hear this theme song and paved the way for other bands who played the same song ever since. Many people visit this beach in order to remember that event. However, these trips often occur during long holidays, that is, when the 4th of July comes immediately after the weekend or just before it (Heintze, 2007).
Band playing and parades are quite common in various parts of the country. One well known display is Bristol’s parade that started as far back as 1785. In fact historians assert that this is one of the most longstanding celebrations of the event. Most parades will occur earlier on in the mornings while fireworks displays will be done later in the evening so as to contrast them with the darkness of the environment.
Some families may choose to participate in private commemorations of the event. In this regard, many of them may take their family members for picnics or may invite their friends for barbecues.
Others may visit their distant relative in other towns or states. During those visits, homes will be decorated with the balloons and streamers in red, blue, and white. A number of them will also place the American flag in the middle of their homes. During such occasions, people will sing well-recognized American songs such as “God Bless America” or “This land is our land”.
What makes the holiday so special
The holiday is so important to Americans because it allows citizens to think about the meaning of the fourth of July. This is the reason why many will visit museums or parades.
They will try their best to do something patriotic in order to capture the spirit of this day. As such they get to appreciate the difficulties that the founding fathers had to go through in order to secure independence for the country. At the time, the Declaration was a crime by Great Britain. Many of these founding fathers were risking their lives by choosing such a path.
However, it was something that had to take place because the British colonialists continued to exert more control over the American states. They imposed greater taxes and instated more rules over the American settlers. Therefore, the latter group could not exercise its own freedom or practice its own values. Everything was determined by the Kingdom of Great Britain. It took a great act of courage to oppose this status quo and curve the country’s own path.
Alternatively, this holiday is quite special because it epitomizes the civil liberties enjoyed in the country. People in the Unite States have the right to choose their religion and will not get persecuted for their choices. The US would not be what it is without freedom. Since people can decide what political side to support or what opinions to express, then one cannot dispute the degree of freedom inherent in the country.
These values would not have been a reality if the country had not fought for them from the British Colonies. The founding fathers chose the path that would be followed by subsequent leaders when they established the country as an independent state. They had the courage to stand for what they felt was right, and this should be celebrated by subsequent generations in the country.
Symbols used in the Fourth of July
The US flag is one of the most symbolic items on the Fourth of July because the country formally became an independent nation. The flag possesses fifty stars and thirteen stripes, which represent all the 13 colonies that later became independent states (50 in number). It has the color red which stands for courage; white represents purity while blue represents justice. These values could not be realized if the country was not independent from the British colonialists.
The activities of the 4th of July were the ones that caused the country to enjoy these founding principles. People will place flags in their homes, cars and in public areas in order to show their appreciation of the independence that the country enjoyed after the 13 colonies ended their association with Great Britain (Maier, 1997).
Alternatively, some individuals think of the Liberty Bell as an important symbol of the freedom and independence that the country enjoyed thanks to the 4th of July. The Liberty Bell rang for the first time on the 8th of July 1776 when the Philadelphians wanted to read the Declaration for the first time. The item has since been commemorated in Philadelphia by establishment of a special center for the same device.
Similarly, the Statue of Liberty is regarded as a forth of July symbol because it fosters the spirit of the Independence Day. The statue stands for freedom and liberty, which were values that were brought out on the 4th of July 1776. Additionally, the great seal has been regarded as another Fourth of July symbol. It is a national emblem that can be found on documents, money, passports and flags. All the colors on the great seal are derived from the US fags.
The seal also has the bald eagle, 13 stripes, olives, arrows and leaves. The motto of the seal is “from many… one”. This denotes that although many Americans came from different locations, they became one when they lived in the country. The seal is especially insightful because it uses a series of colors, tools and mini-symbols to demonstrate American values.
Comparison of celebrations in the US
In Washington, most people celebrate Independence Day through the Capitol Fourth event. Here, a musical concert will take place as will fireworks.
In fact one can observe fireworks displays in various parts of the state such as Riverfront Park. Yakima state park, Gesa stadium, Pioneer park, Legion memorial, Gas works park and many more. Other events in Washington include parading, picnicking and activities for children. Therefore the celebrations in this state are affected by the government’s presence. In the state of Rhode Island, one is likely to find a military flavor in these celebrations.
Military tools and drills or routines will be found during such celebrations. Other states such as Texas may engage in typical activities such as band music and cooking. Various states have been known for the prominence of their fireworks or the kind of music they play and parades they display.
The United States prides itself in various freedoms and liberties and these were only realized after the country became free to curve its own path. The Fourth of July marks the start of this journey of self determination, so it should continue to be commemorated and preserved.
Burnett, E. (1941). The continental congress. NY: Norton
Heintze, J. (2007). Fourth of July Celebrations database. Retrieved from http://www1.american.edu/heintze/fourth.htm
Maier, P. (1997, August 17). Making sense of the Fourth of July. American Heritage, p. 11