No, not the Will Smith movie.
What is it?
The Forth of July or Independence Day—I’ve always thought it was silly to call it the Fourth of July, that’s the date. But apparently that’s an official name for it?—anyway, it’s a yearly celebration of our nations independence from a king across the ocean.
If you click on the Google Doodle for today (if you don’t know it’s the redrawn logo for Google that changes for holidays and such) it takes you to a page with info about July 4th, or Independence day.
It was on 4th July, 1776, when Congress signed the Declaration of Independence of the United States, thereby giving freedom of the country from British Rule.Google Doodle History link
Two days previous, on July 2nd, they’d voted to declare independence from Britain.
How’d it start?
The Revolutionary War in 1775 started because the 13 original colonies basically hated the colonial governments that represented the British crown. It was because of the war, also know as the American Revolution, that the people in the colonies began to want independence from their current government. That’s what eventually led to the Continental Congress voting on independence, and then signing of the Declaration of Independence (penned by Thomas Jefferson).
Of course the British government didn’t appreciate all this nonsense and war continued. But that’s not what this post is about.
People began celebrating the Declaration Independence when it was first read in the colonies. This often consisted of holding mock funerals for King George III, in representation of the end of his rule over the colonies. Considering they previously celebrated his birthday, this was certainly a unique turn of events.
While fireworks have been in use for many reasons since around 200 BC so they aren’t unique to the celebration of the independence of a nation. But they began to appear in 4th celebrations as early as the first anniversary of the signing of the declaration. There was a 13 gun salute from a ship, and the Sons of Liberty shot fireworks over the Boston Common.
The Forth of July didn’t become a federal holiday until 1870, and in 1941 it became a paid holiday for federal employees.
Politically the holiday has declined in importance, but, like all holidays have, it has changed. It has become more of a leisure holiday. Families and friends gather for barbecues and fun and games AND BRIGHTLY COLORED EXPLOSIONS.
Some may say it has become the official day for kid’s carefully curated sleep schedules (you know, because of school) to become totally out of whack as loud noises and bright lights tend to make everyone a tad unstable.
You also cannot forget the ever present retail connection to the holiday. Like all modern versions of holidays, there’s a heavy undercurrent to Independence Day celebrations. No holiday can be complete without themed sales and deals.
Having a backyard BBQ? How about new grill from Home Depot or Lowes? Or a new television so you can watch fireworks from the comfort of your own home?
Or how about you just go out and purchase your government sanctioned sky explosions? The average American can spend hundreds of dollars at roadside fireworks stands.
And cities and counties spend those Americans hard earned tax dollars, anywhere from $2,000-$7,000 for 10-20 minutes of KABOOMS.
And that’s not even the fancy shows.
Kinda makes you wonder if the 56 fellers that signed the Declaration of Independence thought we’d be celebrating their act by scaring animals and some small children by exploding chemicals in the air with fire?
And with the state of the country today, many people aren’t celebrating freedom. To be honest, I only went to our local celebration last night because The Kid wanted too. But she ended up getting sick and we missed the finale.
I also must mention, that the town I live in canceled theirs because, of course, a shooting locally. Three police officers and a K-9 officer were killed. Didn’t feel right to celebrate.
I apologize if my hastily written post is, well, hastily written. But I wanted to post it, and love to do a little bit of googling.
Thanks for reading.