Independence Day, July 4th, has been an important day in American history since 1776, when the 13 colonies separated from Great Britain during the American Revolution. Americans celebrate this federal holiday each summer with hot dogs, movie premiers, and fireworks, but do we truly remember the true meaning of July 4?
Before the American Revolution, the colonies would hold birthday celebrations for the king, which included processions, bonfires and speeches. After the Declaration of Independence was signed, some colonists held mock funerals for King George III as a way of symbolizing their freedom. The state of Pennsylvania held the first commemoration of liberty on July 4th in 1777 with concerts, parades and firing of cannons that accompanied a reading of the Declaration of Independence.
After the conclusion of the Revolutionary War in 1783, celebrating July 4th became more political and widespread, giving emerging leaders the opportunity to address their citizens. By 1870, commemoration of America’s independence had become so popular that Congress declared July 4 a federal holiday. Later in 1941, this day of celebration was further considered a paid holiday for all federal employees.
Today, July 4th celebrations have evolved into a day of leisure. Americans host barbeques, attend parades, watch fireworks and don the colors of the American flag but there is very little to speak of in the way of nationwide unity. While it is nice to have a day off of work, this holiday is important because our ancestors fought for our right to be a free country with our own goals and ideals. Is it possible that we as Americans have lost sight of the meaning of this important day in history due to the hoopla of the festivities?