Fourth of July – “American Independence Day”

If you type ‘Fourth of July‘ in your Google Search today, you will be directed to the next page with lots of colorful fireworks. Today marks the Independence Day of the American from the Great Britain. Although 4th July was declared to be federal holiday for the United States since 1941, the day is commemorated with celebrations since the 18th Century and American Revolution.

History dates back to the 18th century American Revolution which took place from 1775-1783 when there was a growing enmity between the British and the Great Britain’s 13 North American colonies. Prior to this breakout of the American Revolution in 1775, there was a growing tension between the British and the American colonies. Due to this revolution, many colonies started coming under the jurisdiction of the British who started to levy some new and expensive taxes (via Tea Tax, Stamp Act and Townshend Act) on these colonies. It resulted in the colonial protests which led to the infamous Boston Massacre. Owing to this, a group of colonial delegates decided to raise their voice against the British by denouncing the taxation and by declaring rights with respect to life, liberty, property, assembly and trial by jury. Following this on April 1775, the Revolutionary War broke out owing to the desire of independence by the Americans from the Great Britain. On 7th June, a delegate from Virginia, Richard Henry Lee proposed a motion for independence to the Continental Congress. Subsequently, on 2nd July, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of Lee’s resolution of independence for the Americans and finally on 4th July, 1776, 13 colonies drafted the Declaration of Independence which was drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

Now there is a bit of debate as to which day should be considered to be celebrated as the American Independence Day. Should it be 2nd July, when the Continental Congress actually voted for the independence and when John Adams of Massachusetts (a proponent of Colonial Independence) wrote to his wife saying that July 2 “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” with parades, pomps, guns, bombs, illumination and bells all across the continent. Or should it be 4th July, when the Declaration of Independence was finally adopted by the Continental Congress.

An interesting fact about 4th July is that both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on 4th July (although at different years).

So be it 2nd July or 4th July, Americans have, since the end of Revolutionary War, continued to celebrate the American Independence on 4th July. Early celebrations included organizing mock funerals of George III as a symbol of liberty. The day usually started with public readings from the Declaration of Independence, followed by bonfires, parades, concerts and cannon firings. Philadelphia was the first city to hold the annual celebration to mark the Fourth of July. They were the first to introduce the fireworks on July 4th by using 1-guns to give salute to the 13 colonies involved in the American Independence. Followed by this, Massachusetts became the first state to mark the 4th July as an official state holiday. In 1941, following the great War of 1812, U.S Congress declared 4th July to be a paid federal holiday. Modern celebrations by millions of Americans includes family get-togethers, barbeques, picnics, baseball and other outdoor games. Every year, about 15,000 fireworks celebrations were being held every year.

But be it early or modern celebrations, this year Fourth of July is going to set a landmark in its ways of celebrations. Owing to this COVID-19 pandemic, some restrictions and no-shows have been imposed, which includes:

  1. Some organizations held secret fireworks so as to avoid public gatherings. For example, NYC Macy’s fireworks were held in surprise locations at random times and that too just for five minutes.
  2. US had cancelled all the Independence Day parades. For example, National Independence Day Parade in Washington DC tops the list.
  3. Pre-recording the events at iconic location and streaming it to the millions so as to enjoy it from home. For example, “online block party” in Los Angeles, Capitol Fourth concert in Washington DC to name a few.
  4. To curb the public gatherings, many public places such as bars, restaurants and even the beaches in Florida and California will not be accessible to the public, especially during weekends.
  5. Owing to the recent public lash out to the death of African American George Floyd in police custody, Donald Trump had deployed administrative teams to guard the federal monuments.

Fourth of July is considered to a very important and a memorable day for the Americans, but lets celebrate this year with a twist – by staying safe at home, with family and loved ones.

Let’s take a pledge on this Independence Day to fight for the health workers, doctors and above all, for the humanity, to conquer the virus and to re-claim our independence.