The 4th of July as far as history is concerned is a day to celebrate our country and what was given to create it.
In today’s society of fast paced life and repetitive behavior there is often little thought given to the why’s and wherefores of what we do. On the Fourth of July families the nation over gather along a parade route, scramble in the gutter for some candy then proceed to a BBQ and wrap the day off on a quilt beneath a sparkling sky of stars and fireworks. Why?
While the official day of celebration falls on the fourth day of July each year the events being commemorated actually occurred during a time spanning July 2, 1776 through August of the same year. It was on July 2nd that the Second Continental Congress comprised of delegates from each of the 13 original colonies voted and passed a motion of independence from Great Brittan.
The Declaration of Independence was then debated and revised until its final draft was signed on July 4th, 1776. The actual gathering of signatures was not complete until August of that year. Yet the commemoration of America asserting its freedom as a sovereign nation apart from the British Empire has been observed every year on July 4th since 1776.
The very first celebration of American Independence was on July 8th 1776 when the declaration of Independence was read aloud and the Liberty bell tolled in Philadelphia. The following year in 1777, July 4th was celebrated in grand style guns were fired in the morning and at dusk, ships were docked and bedecked with red, white and blue banners, parades, prayer and speeches marked the day.
Even during the Revolutionary war July 4th was celebrated by the Patriots. It is said that George Washington celebrated July 4th 1778 by allowing his men double rations of rum. However meager it might have been, it is remarkable during a war with the cause of Independence at it’s very heart they took the time to celebrate.
While the Fourth of July was being celebrated annually since the founding fathers first signed the Declaration of Independence, it wasn’t until 1941 that it was declared an official national holiday. The first known use of the term ‘Independence Day’ was in 1791.
The Fourth of July celebrations remain very similar to what they were in the 1770’s. Families and communities gather outdoors to pass the day attending speeches, parades, salutes with cannons and guns, parades and fireworks displays. Traditional foods are of the picnic and BBQ variety.