Why Do We Celebrate The Fourth Of July? | Big Horn Basin Media

Why Do We Celebrate The Fourth Of July?

Written by on July 3, 2024

The easy, simple answer is that July 4 is celebrated because that’s the day in 1776 when the country declared its freedom from British monarchy rule by signing the Declaration of Independence.

True history buffs will know that only John Hancock penned his signature on July 4th. When the other 56 delegates of the Continental Congress, the governing body of what were 13 U.S. colonies, signed is unclear. The document declared that the colonists in America were thereby free from British rule, even though the Revolutionary War was still raging.

There was an argument that July 4 was the wrong date to pick for the holiday, because the Continental Congress actually declared its freedom from England on July 2, 1776. On that day, they voted on a resolutions that said “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

Because of that, Massachusetts’s John Adams “believed that July 2 was the correct date on which to celebrate the birth of American independence, and would reportedly turn down invitations to appear at July 4 events in protest,” according to the History Channel.

How long has the Fourth of July been a federal holiday?

The U.S. Congress initially made it a federal holiday in 1870, but “in 1941, the provision was expanded to grant a paid holiday to all federal employees,” according to the History Channel.

When were fireworks first used in July 4 celebrations?

The tradition of using colorful explosives to celebrate our breaking away from England and becoming our own country began in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, according to the History Channel.

The History Channel noted, “The Pennsylvania Evening Post reported: ‘at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with 13 rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.’ That same night, the Sons of Liberty set off fireworks over Boston Common.'”

Celebrations were also happening in Rhode Island. Mary Gould Almy, a Tory (British sympathizer) of Newport wrote in her diary, which is at Roger Williams University Library, the gun salutes were fired across the state.

“This being the first anniversary of the Declaration of the Independency of the Rebel Colonies, they ushered in the morning at [Bristol] by firing 13 cannons, one for each colony, we suppose. At 12 o’clock the three Rebel Frigates that lie at and near Providence fired 13 guns, and at one [o’clock] 13 guns were fired from their fort at Howland’s Ferry [Tiverton]. At sunset, the Rebel Frigates fired another round of 13 guns each, one after the other. As the evening was very still and fine, the echo of the guns down the bay had a very grand effect…”

Fireworks on the Fourth of July in Cody

For over 20 years, the town of Cody, Wyoming has celebrated the Fourth of July with a nationally-recognized fireworks show.  Following the Cody Stampede Rodeo on July 4, Cody, Wyoming caps the annual celebration with the Cody Skylighters Fireworks Show.

This year, you can listen to the fireworks soundtrack on KZMQ at 102.3FM and 100.3FM when the fireworks display starts, usually after 10PM.

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