Yesterday was July 4th, 2017 and over the past few days I listened to a lot of people and sat watching them. I was raised that July 4th was a day we celebrated our independence, becoming our own country. As a child, we would go up to the local park about dark and the local American Legion would carry the United States Flag in as they played the Star Spangled Banner over the speaker system. We would stand and put our right hand over our heart. I wonder how many people think about this when they get together. Have you thought about why we shoot off fireworks on July 4th? Is there a reason the tradition started?
The reason we shoot off fireworks is “because John Adams wanted us to. Before the Declaration of Independence was even signed, he envisioned fireworks as a part of the festivities. In a letter to Abigail Adams on July 3, 1776, he wrote that the occasion should be commemorated “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 forever more.” The first commemorative Independence Day fireworks were set off on July 4, 1777. The Pennsylvania Evening Post wrote that in Philadelphia, “The evening was closed with the ring of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.” The paper noted that “Everything was conducted with the greatest order and decorum, and the face of joy and gladness was universal.” That same year, fireworks also lit up the sky in Boston, where they were exhibited by Col. Thomas Crafts over the common. By 1783 a large variety of fireworks were available to the public. In 1784 one merchant offered a range of pyrotechnics that included “rockets, serpents, wheels, table rockets, cherry trees, fountains, and sun flowers.”*
What would the 4th of July be without fireworks? I know as a child I learned all the ooohhhs and awwws as the big ones exploded in the sky above me. Our mom would bring along a big blanket and we would sit on the grass and watch the fireworks as they lit up the sky in brilliant colors or a big bang would go off and we would cover our ears. These are all times we remember and I hope we are teaching our children what the 4th means and why we are celebrating. It is about all the military who have fought for this country and our ancestors who wanted more for this country than being controlled by another country. We are a proud nation and we are struggling right now. It is so easy to forget the important things and make it all about us as an individual. Each firework going off is a representation of each of us. A different color, different design, or a different size but we are all Americans who care about this country and will stand up for it with our last breath.