December 5, 2020

Celebrating the Birth of America

Each year on July 4, Americans celebrate their freedom and independence with barbecues, picnics, and family gatherings. Families all across America get together for backyard celebrations that have become the cornerstone of July 4th celebrations.

Traditional foods like fresh corn on the cob, yellow squash, baked beans, bar-b-que, ham, potatoes, and green beans grace grills and picnic tables across this great land.

Many cities across America have planned activities, parades, memorials, and huge outdoor fireworks displays. Children play with snap pops and wave sparklers, whose noise and lights remind us of the battles of the revolution.

Decorating for the 4th of July with our nation’s colors is a long-standing tradition. Every July 4th finds the colors of red white and blue decorating America.  The American flag is found proudly flying everywhere and small flags adorn veteran’s graves and are waved by old and young alike.

DAR4thSince 1776, thousands have left their homelands to come to the “land of the free and the home of the brave” so they could begin their American Dream. We should all take the time to stop and remember what this day represents and why we celebrate it.

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, announcing the colonies’ independence from Great Britain and a democracy was born.

While the Constitution provides the legal and governmental framework for the United States, the Declaration, with its eloquent assertion “all Men are created equal,” proclaims our freedom.

It was this document that lived in the hearts of the men and women who fought so valiantly for their freedom from tyranny and oppression. These patriots, of many different races and nationalities, banded together to fight for this new nation. They made many sacrifices to be free men and women, to make new lives for themselves and their descendants, to create their new country.

Every July 4th, we honor those patriots whose valor and sacrifice gave us this country. We celebrate the freedoms they provided for us. Never let us forget the reason for this holiday and those who fought so selflessly for us.

The First July 4th Celebration

The first anniversary of American independence was recognized in Philadelphia with a spontaneous celebration, which is described in a letter by John Adams to his daughter. As you read it, you can see the beginnings of today’s traditions.

John Adams Letter to his Daughter, July 5, 1777 from the Library of Congress:

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Philadelphia, July 5th, 1777

 

My dear Daughter,

Yesterday, being the anniversary of American Independence was celebrated here with a festivity and ceremony becoming the occasion.

I am too old to delight in pretty descriptions, if I had a talent for them, otherwise a picture might be drawn, which would please the fancy of a Whig, at least.

The thought of taking any notice of this day, was not conceived, until the second of this month, and it was not mentioned until the third. It was too late to have a sermon, as everyone wished, so this must be deferred another year.

Congress determined to adjourn over that day, and to dine together. The general officers and others in town were invited, after the President and Council, and Board of War of this State.

In the morning the Delaware frigate, several large gallies, and other continental armed vessels, the Pennsylvania ship and row gallies and guard boats, were all hawled off in the river, and several of them beautifully dressed in the colours of all nations, displayed about upon the masts, yards, and rigging.

At one o’clock the ships were all manned, that is, the men were all ordered aloft, and arranged upon the tops, yards, and shrowds, making a striking appearance-of companies of men drawn up in order, in the air.

Then I went on board the Delaware, with the President and several gentlemen of the Marine Committee, soon after which we were saluted with a discharge of thirteen guns, which was followed by thirteen others, from each other armed vessel in the river; then the gallies followed the fire, and after them the guard boats.

Then the President and company returned in the barge to the shore, and were saluted with three cheers, from every ship, galley, and boat in the river. The wharves and shores, were lined with a vast concourse of people, all shouting and huzzaing, in a manner which gave great joy to every friend to this country, and the utmost terror and dismay to every lurking tory.

At three we went to dinner, and were very agreeably entertained with excellent company, good cheer, fine music from the band of Hessians taken at Trenton, and continual vollies between every toast, from a company of soldiers drawn up in Second-street before the city tavern, where we dined. The toasts were in honour of our country, and the heroes who have fallen in their pious efforts to defend her.

After this, two troops of light-horse, raised in Maryland, accidentally here in their way to camp, were paraded through Second-street, after them a train of artillery, and then about a thousand infantry, now in this city on their march to camp, from North Carolina. All these marched into the common, where they went through their firings and manoeuvres; but I did not follow them.

 In the evening, I was walking about the streets for a little fresh air and exercise, and was surprised to find the whole city lighting up their candles at the windows. I walked most of the evening, and I think it was the most splendid illumination I ever saw; a few surly houses were dark; but the lights were very universal.

Considering the lateness of the design and the suddenness of the execution, I was amazed at the universal joy and alacrity that was discovered, and at the brilliancy and splendour of every part of this joyful exhibition. I had forgot the ringing of bells all day and evening, and the bonfires in the streets, and the fireworks played off.

Had General Howe been here in disguise, or his master, this show would have given them the heart-ache.

I am your affectionate father,

John Adams

 

~Submitted by Carla Brown

 

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