John Adams felt immense pride and joy on July 3, 1776, the day after the Second Continental Congress had declared America’s independence. The fourth president of the United States penned a letter to his wife Abigail that day, expressing his delight at what he believed would be a momentous occasion in history that would be celebrated by generations to come.
Adams proclaimed July 2nd – the day the Declaration of Independence was ratified and signed – as “the most memorable Epocha in the history of America”. He envisioned an enormous celebration with pomp and parade, shows, games, sports, fireworks, bonfires, and illuminations all across the continent. Moreover, Adams suggested that this anniversary should be solemnized through acts of devotion to God Almighty.
Though nearly two and a half centuries have passed since this momentous event, Adams’s words still ring true today as millions of Americans and visitors celebrate July 4th every year as our nation’s Day of Deliverance – a time to honor the founding of our great nation.
Since first solidified in the United States on July 4th, 1776, fireworks have become an integral part of Independence Day celebrations across the country. Every year, eyes light up to the vibrant spectacle that fills our night skies with colour and awe. But where did this tradition originate?
Historians believe firework displays pre-date American history by centuries, all the way back to 200 B.C. in China. Chinese folklore suggests firecrackers were first made from bamboo stalks thrown into fires, producing a ‘bang’ sound as a result of heated, hollow air pockets inside the plant. The explosion was said to ward away evil spirits.
Fast-forward to between 600 and 900 A.D., and we see the origins of modern fireworks when a Chinese alchemist began mixing potassium nitrate, sulfur and charcoal – ingredients that came together to form the now widely-known gunpowder.
Fireworks are beloved around the world, but have special significance here in America – reminding us of how far we’ve come and representing hope for a brighter future. Make sure you enjoy them responsibly this 4th of July!
The spark of history: From the 13th and 14th centuries, gunpowder has allowed people to weaponize fireworks and use them in combat. But during this same Renaissance period, fireworks soon became a source of entertainment for public celebrations, and this festive tradition has only grown more sophisticated over the years. We have early American colonizer John Smith to thank for setting off the first fireworks display in Jamestown, Virginia 1608, but now these explosions of color and sound are computer-programmed and synchronized to music, like the Melaleuca fireworks show in Idaho Falls.
Glenn Beck astutely put it best in his recent radio broadcast—this Fourth of July is a fantastic opportunity to marvel at how far we have come as one nation out of many sources, paying homage to our founding fathers statement “E pluribus unum” – out of many, one. As we take in the brilliant displays in the sky, let’s remember that together we remain a country called the United States of America, and we are free.