Tidbistories: Independence Day
When you think of Independence Day-also known as the 4th of July-what do you think of?
Fireworks? Parades down Main Street? Hot dogs? Baseball? Barbecue parties with neighbors, friends, and family? Waving flags? All of those things, and then some, are activities we do to celebrate Independence Day.
But where did this holiday come from? Who invented it and why?
Independence Day or July 4th is one of eleven federal holidays celebrated and observed in our country, but is considered to be the National Day of the United States. Independence Day is the holiday where we celebrate the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence is the document our nation’s founding fathers wrote that basically states the 13 original colonies were no longer under Great Britain’s rule.
The legal, or official, separation of the original 13 colonies was on July 2nd, 1776. But, the content and wording of the Declaration of Independence was not approved by the Second Continental Congress until the 4th of July, 1776.
The primary author of the Declaration of Independence was Thomas Jefferson from Virginia. He and four other members of Congress met to draft one of the most important documents in American history. John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, and Robert Livingston of New York were the other committee members appointed to draft the document.
In a letter to his wife, Abigail, John Adams wrote about our new independence and how he thought future generations would celebrate it. He hit the nail on the head when he told her about the festivals, parades, games, and bonfires the future generations would participate in annually to celebrate our nation’s independence. In 1791, fifteen years after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the name “Independence Day” was first recorded.
There are many customs and traditions people follow on this day. Fireworks and patriotic themed parades seem to be the most popular. It seems that just about every community, from the tiniest farm town to the largest city, has a parade down Main Street during the day and a brilliant fireworks display once the sun goes down.
How do you celebrate the 4th of July or Independence Day? What are some of your family traditions passed down from generation to generation? What does Independence Day mean to you?
Your local library is a great place to go if you want to learn more about any of our “Tidbits of History”, Independence Day, or the Declaration of Independence! You can even look up some pretty neat websites and find out more about how people in your community and across the nation celebrate our National Day.
Have a great 4th of July!