As we all make our plans for Independence Day in the good ole U.S. of A, there is one thing I can almost guarantee all of our 4th of July’s will have in common: fireworks.
Whether you’re watching an elaborate light show on the lake, lighting ‘em off yourself somewhere on a beach or even viewing them via someone’s attempt at a simultaneously artsy and patriotic Instagram, the sight of fireworks are in your future.
However, much like the timeless tradition of yelling “War Eagle,” (a Civil War bird I think?) the real origin of the tradition of fireworks on the 4th of July has gotten a bit lost in translation.
But, worry not fellow Americans. After extensive hours of backbreaking research (read: I googled it), I believe I have found the answer to question at hand. And apparently, the answer is, more or less, because John Adams was just really feeling it back in 1776.
In a letter to his wife Abigail Adams, which I found a copy of on history.com via that aforementioned google search, Adams laid out a picture of what all 4th of July’s would look like:
"It ought to be commemorated, as the day of deliverance by Solomon, acts of devotion to God almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfire and illuminations from one end of the continent to the other from this time forever more."
Okay, so we might have taken a few creative liberties and added in the whole barbecue and beer tradition, but the parade, the shows, the bonfire and the illuminations: all Adams' idea apparently.
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He knew that this was not merely a day of independence, but a day of celebration — and you know, firework shows.
The truth is, the world looks a lot different today than it did 240 years ago. Things are probably a lot scarier and more corrupt than Adams would have hoped for or imagined.
Still, I would agree that Adams knew what he was talking about when he said that Independence Day ought to be commemorated. After all, our country is still free. We've made it this far. As Americans, we have liberties some citizens in other countries could never dare to dream of. That might just be something worth lighting a couple off for.
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