Fourth of July, Independence Day in the United States

Sunday, 4 July 2021 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
Reading Time:  11 minutes

Fourth of July at the U.S. Capitol © flickr.com - Architect of the Capitol

Fourth of July at the U.S. Capitol © flickr.com – Architect of the Capitol

Independence Day (colloquially the Fourth of July or July 4) is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the Declaration of Independence of the United States, on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies were no longer subject (and subordinate) to the monarch of Britain, King George III, and were now united, free, and independent states. The Congress had voted to declare independence two days earlier, on July 2, but it was not declared until July 4. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, political speeches, and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the national day of the United States.

Independence Day fireworks are often accompanied by patriotic songs such as the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner“; Columbia the Gem of the ocean,”God Bless America“; “America the Beautiful“; “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee“; “This Land Is Your Land“; “Stars and Stripes Forever“; “Yankee Doodle“; “Dixie” in southern states; “Lift Every Voice and Sing“; and occasionally, but has nominally fallen out of favor, Hail Columbia. Some of the lyrics recall images of the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812. The aforementioned patriotism and nationalism in the USA differs in large parts from the often toxic patriotism and nationalism in the EU states. Of course, the USA is not free from right-wing extremists and right-wing terrorists either, but days like the Fourth of July serve in particular to establish identity. The USA only became what it is today through immigration. So it is more about “people from all over the world and all walks of life” than about grown populations with clear majority populations and various minority groups as in the western EU states. In order to organize such a “troop” and weld it together to form a nation, above all symbols that everyone can get along with are needed. Within the EU, these are the European flag, the European anthem, the Euro, the Schengen Agreement, the Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policy, various identity-creating events and of course the common rules. Within the USA these are the flag, the official and numerous unofficial “anthems”, Fourth of July, baseball, football, apple pie, Hamburger, Barbecue, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and a lot more. As a European one can easily arrogantly interpret this as “pathetic“. In fact, it follows the goal of creating a social “we-feeling“. At least as far as the symbols are concerned, it works very well in all 50 federal states, while at the same time maintaining the folklore brought from home, strengthening the rights of minorities and strengthening regional specialties. The EU has a similar approach but could do a little better, especially when it comes to communication, because the so-called “concerned citizens”, “patriots” and “nationalists” of the EU states completely ignore these aspects to try to sell their crude (conspiracy) theories better.

Firework shows are held in many states, and many fireworks are sold for personal use or as an alternative to a public show. Safety concerns have led some states to ban fireworks or limit the sizes and types allowed. In addition, local and regional weather conditions may dictate whether the sale or use of fireworks in an area will be allowed. Some local or regional firework sales are limited or prohibited because of dry weather or other specific concerns. On these occasions the public may be prohibited from purchasing or discharging fireworks, but professional displays (such as those at sports events) may still take place, if certain safety precautions have been taken. A salute of one gun for each state in the United States, called a “salute to the union,” is fired on Independence Day at noon by any capable military base. New York City has the largest fireworks display in the country sponsored by Macy’s, with more than 22 tons of pyrotechnics exploded in 2009. It generally holds displays in the East River. Other major displays are in Seattle on Lake Union; in San Diego over Mission Bay; in Boston on the Charles River; in Philadelphia over the Philadelphia Museum of Art; in San Francisco over the San Francisco Bay; and on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. During the annual Windsor–Detroit International Freedom Festival, Detroit, Michigan hosts one of the largest fireworks displays in North America, over the Detroit River, to celebrate Independence Day in conjunction with Windsor, Ontario‘s celebration of Canada Day. The first week of July is typically one of the busiest United States travel periods of the year, as many people use what is often a three-day holiday weekend for extended vacation trips.

Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C. © flickr.com - S Pakhrin/cc-by-2.0 Fourth of July at the U.S. Capitol © flickr.com - Architect of the Capitol Fourth of July Cake © flickr.com - Amerikanische Botschaft Berlin Fourth of July Cake © Victorgrigas Fourth of July fireworks behind the Washington Monument, Washington, D.C., 1986 © National Archives and Records Administration - SSGT. Lono Kollars Fourth of July fireworks in Lubec, Maine © It'sOnlyMakeBelieve/cc-by-sa-4.0 Fourth of July fireworks in Miami, Florida © Averette Fourth of July fireworks in New York City © David Shankbone/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Fourth of July fireworks behind the Washington Monument, Washington, D.C., 1986 © National Archives and Records Administration - SSGT. Lono Kollars
During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the thirteen colonies from Great Britain in 1776 actually occurred on July 2, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia declaring the United States independent from Great Britain’s rule. After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration to remove its vigorous denunciation of the slave trade, finally approving it two days later on July 4. Jefferson had written the following indictment against King George III:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemispere, or to incure miserable death in their transportation hither. this piratical warfare, the opprobium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce determining to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he had deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:

The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

Adams’s prediction was off by two days. From the outset, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress. Historians have long disputed whether members of Congress signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, even though Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin all later wrote that they had signed it on that day. Most historians have concluded that the Declaration was signed nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2, 1776, and not on July 4 as is commonly believed. By a remarkable coincidence, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the only two signatories of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as presidents of the United States, both died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration, Jefferson even mentioning the fact. Although not a signatory of the Declaration of Independence, James Monroe, another Founding Father who was elected as president, also died on July 4, 1831, making him the third President who died on the anniversary of independence. The only U.S. president to have been born on Independence Day was Calvin Coolidge, who was born on July 4, 1872.

Read more on History.com – Fourth of July – Independence Day, PBS.org – The History of America’s Independence Day, NPR, 2 July 2021: An NPR Tradition, Here’s The Reading Of The Declaration Of Independence, Newsweek, 4 July 2021: The Betsy Ross Flag Controversy Explained, Khaleej Times, 4 July 2021: Celebrate 4th of July in the UAE and Wikipedia Independence Day (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.








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