Independence Day in the United States is commonly or colloquially known as the Fourth of July. This is a federal holiday in the country to commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, which established that United States had gained independence from the then Kingdom of Great Britain, now known as United Kingdom officially. The day is observed amidst much fanfare in the country where a lot of patriotic themed events are organized apart from general merrymaking.
- On July 2, 1776, during the period of American Revolution, there occurred a separation of the Thirteen Colonies from the Kingdom of Great Britain.
- Earlier in June that year the Second Continental Congress voted to pass a Resolution of Independence that was proposed by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia who aimed to declare the United States independent from the rule of Great Britain.
- After the voting was done, Congress then shifted their focus to frame the Declaration of Independence, a statement that explained the decision. This Declaration was prepared by a Committee of Five that constituted of eminent persons like Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Robert Livingston, with Jefferson being the principal author.
- The draft was then debated that reworded before final approval on July 4.
- However historians have opined that the Declaration was signed nearly a month after it was adopted. They attribute the date to be August 2, 1776.
- But the common belief is based on the fact that Jefferson, Adams and Franklin all have in writing agreed to have signed the Declaration on July 4.
Customs and Observances:
- This holiday is essentially marked by patriotic displays. At noon a gun salute to the Union is fired from a capable military base. Fifty shots are fired, one to represent each State of the Union.
- Being a summer celebration most occurrences happen out of doors. Families often host picnics and parties and celebrate their time with relatives, family and friends. Party decors bear the theme of red, white and blue in keeping with the color scheme of the National Flag of the United States.
- The morning brings about a number of parades, while the evening is about firework displays. Fireworks are held at pre determined public places in keeping with safety measures. Private firework displays are banned in some States on account of safety measure. Fireworks are often accompanied by patriotic songs or at least the National Anthem.
- In some States it is allowed to sell fireworks for personal enjoyment during this time. But many States restrict to only public displays due to safety concerns. Even size and types of fireworks allowed are stipulated.
- Sometimes people gather together on the night before the Fourth for a bonfire. In New England it is a custom for towns to compete and build towering pyramids that are lit at nightfall to mark the beginning of the celebrations.
Non-essential Government departments do not function on this day. Schools are often closed too for the occasion. No such regulation is applicable in case of retail stores or restaurants. In fact, retailers come up with huge schemes and discounts to lure buyers during this time. Public transportation system may run a little erratic though. Many people use this break to enjoy an extended vacation.
A few unique or historical observances:
- The oldest Fourth of July celebration that has continued till date is believed to be the one held in Bristol, Rhode Island, in the year 1785.
- In Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario, the custom was adopted since 1959 to celebrate during the last week of June the Independence Days of both US (July 4) and Canada (July 1). Beautiful fireworks displays light up the Detroit River.
- The famous Macy’s Fireworks Display is a major attraction in New York and the event has been aired nationwide on NBC since 1976.
- Since 1970, on this day, the town of Atlanta in Georgia, host the annual 10 kilometer Peachtree Road Race.
- Since 1973, the "Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular" is hosted annually over the Charles River Esplanade where firework display is accompanied by music by the Boston Pops Orchestra.
- More than half a million people assemble on the Capitol Lawn for a free concert called “A Capitol Fourth” that precedes firework show.