4th of July: Historically Speaking
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Fourth of July History
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“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4th, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers, who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics, where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets ‘iffy,’ and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is Patriotism.” ~ Erma Bombeck
Historically Speaking – Where Tradition Began
“On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence. At that time, the people of the 13 British colonies located along the eastern coast of what is now the United States were involved in a war over what they considered unjust treatment by the king and parliament in Britain. The war began in 1775. As the war continued, the colonists realized that they were fighting not just for better treatment; they were fighting for freedom from England’s rule.
Philadelphians marked the first anniversary of American independence with a spontaneous celebration, observing Independence Day only became commonplace after the War of 1812. Thereafter celebrations broke out in several different places by way of things like ground breaking ceremonies that were scheduled to take place on the same day as the 4th of July. Since the 1870s, the Fourth of July was the most important secular holiday listed on the calendar.
Celebrations and stage speeches always had one pattern. First the speaker would challenge England to a fight and berate the King and say that he was a skunk. This was known as, ‘twisting the lion’s tail’. Then the next theme was that anyone could find freedom and liberty on our shores. The speaker would invite those who were heavy laden in other lands to come to us and find peace. The speeches were pretty fiery and by that time the men who drank got into fights and called each other Englishmen.
In the afternoon we had what we called the ‘plug uglies’ — funny floats and clowns who took off on the political subjects of the day…The Fourth was the day of the year that really counted back then.” (“Rural Life in the 1870’s,” Portland, Oregon, Walker Winslow, interviewer, December 15, 1938)
“After the American Revolution, towering bonfires were lit the night before the Fourth and bells, guns and cannons broke the morning. After the war, the average American found the cost of imported European fireworks much too high. Not until after 1816 and the start of a home industry would fireworks once more become a common feature of the celebration. But towering bonfires were lit the night before and bells, guns, and cannons broke the morning. Liberty poles were raised and capped. Children hung Benedict Arnold in effigy until the memory of his treachery faded.
Graying veterans reminisced while overseeing heroic reenactments of their town’s great battles, and, as it was said, “made the eagle scream.” Public spectacle was added to city festivities in the 1830’s. A typical Fourth of July in New York City began with the roar of cannons and the unfurling of flags, pennants, and streamers from the masts of hundreds of ships around the harbor.”
. . . “After all these years we take the fourth of July celebration for granted and use it as an opportunity to take in exhibitions of fireworks that light up the sky and family times that are retold for generations. One of my earliest recollection of the Fourth of July is of a starry night, looking out over the forest of trees to see our sparklers light up our own private world – much to our childish delight! As the farm animals scattered and dogs barked and ran in circles anxiously looking for places to hide, I could see the explosions at the local high school field down in the valley from our grandparents farm. Although it felt like the excitement lasted for hours, bedtime came much too quickly! Even the adults milling about the picnic table, sipping coffee, tea, or beer let out sighs of disappointment when the fireworks came to an end.” . . . Make Great Memories Lasting Generations!
At Gift Basket Idea we hope your holiday celebration is safe and full of cherished memories. To the people who are gone, we wish your family peace. To the service men and women, we say, “Thank-You!”