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Independence Day USA – History, Observance, Customs, Celebration

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Independence Day USA also called as July 4th (“Fourth of July” and “4th of July”), is the independence of United States of America (USA). The USA Declared federal holiday of Independence on July 4th, 1776. At this date the United States of America free from Great Britain.

Federal vacation in the United States memorializing the Declaration of Independence Day USA on July 4th, 1776. The Continental Congress party declared that the thirteen American communities were no longer subordinate to the ruler of Britain and were now the United States free. The Congress had voted to declare freedom two days earlier, on July 2nd, but it announces on July 4th.

Independence Day USA

 

Independence Day USA is linked with fireworks, ceremonies, barbecues, celebrations, fairs, parties, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and festivals, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the government, history, and traditions of the United States. This national day is Independence Day of the United States.

 

Independence Day USA
Images of fireworks, such as these over the Washington Monument in 1986, take place across the United States on Independence Day.
Independence Day of USA The Fourth of July
Recognized by The United States
Celebrations Fireworks, family get-togethers, shows, barbecues, picnics, and ceremonies, etc
Type Independence Day Event
Frequency Annual
Date July 4
Next time July 4, 2019

 

History

At the time of the USA Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain on 2nd July 1776. When the 2nd Continental Congress voted for the resolution of Independence that had been introduced in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia representing the United States independent to Great Britain’s rule. After voting for Independence, Congress returned its attention to the declaration of Independence, a report describing this decision, which had been made by a Committee of 5 with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress discussed and revised the wording of the declaration, finally approving it two days later on July, 4th.

The 2nd day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be cebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

John Adams

Adams’s prediction was off by two days. From the outset, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress.

Historians have long disputed whether members of Congress signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, even though Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin all later wrote that they had signed it on that day. Most historians have concluded that the Declaration was signed nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2, 1776, and not on July 4 as is commonly believed.

Coincidentally, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as Presidents of the United States, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, James Monroe, another Founding Father who was elected as President, also died on July 4, 1831. He was the third President who died on the anniversary of independence. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872; so far he is the only U.S. President to have been born on Independence Day.

Observance

  • In 1777, thirteen gunshots were fired in salute, once at morning and once again as evening fell, on July 4 in Bristol, Rhode Island. An article on July 18, 1777 issue of The Virginia Gazette noted a celebration in Philadelphia in a manner a modern American would find familiar: an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts, 13-gun salutes, speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. Ships in port were decked with red, white, and blue bunting.
  • In 1778, from his headquarters at Ross Hall, near New Brunswick, New Jersey, General George Washington marked July 4 with a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute (feu de joie). Across the Atlantic Ocean, ambassadors John Adams and Benjamin Franklin held a dinner for their fellow Americans in Paris, France.

  • American children of many ethnic backgrounds celebrate noisily in 1902 Puck cartoon.
  • In 1779, July 4 fell on a Sunday. The holiday was celebrated on Monday, July 5.
  • In 1781, the Massachusetts General Court became the first state legislature to recognize July 4 as a state celebration.
  • In 1783, Salem, North Carolina celebrated with a challenging music program assembled by Johann Friedrich Peter entitled The Psalm of Joy. The town claims to be the first public July 4 event, as it was carefully documented by the Moravian Church, and there are no government records of any earlier celebrations.
  • In 1870, the U.S.A Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees.
  • In 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday.

Customs

Independence Day is a national holiday marked by patriotic displays. Similar to other summer-themed events, Independence Day celebrations often take place outdoors. According to 5 U.S.C. § 6103, Independence Day is a federal holiday, so all non-essential national institutions (such as the postal service and federal courts) are closed on that day. Many politicians make it a point on this day to appear at a public event to praise the nation’s heritage, laws, history, society, and people.

Families often celebrate Independence Day by hosting or attending a picnic or barbecue; many take advantage of the day off and, in some years, a long weekend to gather with relatives or friends. Decorations (e.g., streamers, balloons, and clothing) are generally colored red, white, and blue, the colors of the American flag. Parades are often held in the morning, before family get-together’s, while fireworks displays occur in the evening after dark at such places as parks, fairgrounds, or town squares.

The night before the Fourth was once the focal point of celebrations, marked by raucous gatherings often incorporating bonfires as their centerpiece. In New England, towns competed to build towering pyramids, assembled from barrels and casks. They were lit at nightfall to usher in the celebration. The highest were in Salem, Massachusetts, with pyramids composed of as many as forty tiers of barrels. These made the tallest bonfires ever recorded. The custom flourished in the 19th and 20th centuries and is still practiced in some New England towns.

Independence Day fireworks are often accompanied by patriotic songs such as the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner”; “God Bless America”; “America the Beautiful”; “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”; “This Land Is Your Land”; “Stars and Stripes Forever”; and, regionally, “Yankee Doodle” in northeastern states and “Dixie” in southern states. Some of the lyrics recall images of the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812.

Firework shows are held in many states, and many fireworks are sold for personal use or as an alternative to a public appearance. Safety concerns have led some states to ban fireworks or limit the sizes and types allowed. Also, local and regional weather conditions may dictate whether the sale or use of fireworks in an area will be allowed. Some local or regional firework sales are limited or prohibited because of dry weather or other specific concerns. On these occasions, the public may be prohibited from purchasing or discharging fireworks, but professional displays (such as those at sports events) may still take place if certain safety precautions have been made.

A salute of one gun for each state in the United States called a “salute to the union,” is fired on Independence Day at noon by any capable military base.

New York City has the largest fireworks display in the country, with more than 22 tons of pyrotechnics exploded in 2009. It generally holds shows in the East River. Other primary displays are in Seattle on Lake Union; San Diego over Mission Bay; Boston on the Charles River; Philadelphia over the Philadelphia Museum of Art; San Francisco over the San Francisco Bay; and on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

During the annual Windsor–Detroit International Freedom Festival, Detroit, Michigan hosts one of the largest fireworks displays in North America, over the Detroit River, to celebrate Independence Day in conjunction with Windsor, Ontario’s celebration of Canada Day.

The first week of July is typically one of the busiest United States travel periods of the year, as many people use what is often a three-day holiday weekend for extended vacation trips.

Celebrations

Originally entitled Yankee Doodle, this is one of several versions of a scene painted by A. M. Willard that came to be known as The Spirit of ’76. Often imitated or parodied, it is a familiar symbol of American patriotism.

  • Held since 1785, the Bristol Fourth of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island, is the oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States.
  • Since 1868, Seward, Nebraska, has celebrated on the same town square. In 1979 Seward was designated “America’s Official Fourth of July City-Small Town USA” by resolution of Congress. Seward has also been proclaimed “Nebraska’s Official Fourth of July City” by Governor James Exon in the proclamation. Seward is a town of 6,000 but swells to 40,000+ during the July 4 celebrations.
  • Since 1912, the Rebild Society, a Danish-American friendship organization, has held a July 4 weekend festival that serves as a homecoming for Danish-Americans in the Rebild Hills of Denmark.
  • Since 1959, the International Freedom Festival is jointly held in Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario during the last week of June each year as a mutual celebration of Independence Day and Canada Day (July 1). It culminates in a massive fireworks display over the Detroit River.
  • The famous Macy’s fireworks display usually held over the East River in New York City has been televised nationwide on NBC since 1976. In 2009, the fireworks display was returned to the Hudson River for the first time since 2000 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s exploration of that river.
  • The Boston Pops Orchestra has hosted a music and fireworks show over the Charles River Esplanade called the “Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular” annually since 1973. The event was broadcast nationally from 1991 until 2002 on A&E, and since 2002 by CBS and its Boston station WBZ-TV. WBZ/1030 and WBZ-TV Live broadcast the entire event locally, and from 2002 through 2012, CBS broadcast the final hour of the concert nationally in primetime. The national broadcast was put on hiatus beginning in 2013, which Pops executive producer David G. Mugar believed was the result of decreasing viewership caused by NBC’s encore presentation of the Macy’s fireworks. The national broadcast was revived for 2016 and expanded to two hours. In 2017, Bloomberg Television took over coverage duty, with WHDH carrying local coverage beginning in 2018.
  • On the Capitol lawn in Washington, D.C., A Capitol Fourth, a free concert broadcast live by PBS, NPR and the American Forces Network, precedes the fireworks and attracts over half a million people annually.

 

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