4th of July

Fireworks. Barbeque.

Parties. A long, summer day that stands out from the rest. Possibly long, strenuous drives, for many people. This is the imagery that comes to many people’s minds when thinking of the fourth of July. Yet how many people really think about what this holiday was originally based upon while they are busy partying? How we choose to celebrate and honor this day reflects who we are as proud American citizens and the ideals that we stand for as a nation. The 4th of July, or Independence Day, marks the day that the Founding Fathers of our country signed the Declaration of Independence declaring our freedom the British overwhelming rule.

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Written by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence eloquently stated the beliefs and convictions all Americans held, and summed up a list of grievances against the king. The document will forever be a symbol for liberty and American citizens of the present day celebrate our country’s freedom by taking three day weekends, having parties, and watching fireworks light up the otherwise dark night sky. Many Americans only recognize it as a day off, or an excuse to go to the beach. The whole purpose of this day is to commemorate our independence, but how we act on that is a choice that we must make. We barely take the time to think of what our ancestors went through to achieve this freedom we so often take for granted.

They risked their lives so that we could have freedom of religion, speech, and more. It is only right that we take time out of our frenzied lives to commemorate the bold actions they took for our prosperity. To honor this important day of our history more effectively, we, as Americans, should attempt to remind each other that this day is a significant part of our history and we should celebrate it with pride. We need to remember our ideals, and what we stand for as a nation – equality and liberty for all. While we are together with our family, we need to remember that this holiday is set aside for remembrance of our independence from the British, not because we need a day off to go to the beach.

When I asked about my dad’s family 4th of July family traditions growing up, he said it was basically just a large family gathering. Growing up on a rural Virginia dairy farm, they were able to set off fireworks and sparklers on their vast amount of land. They also played classic American games such as baseball and horseshoes. They even took turns shooting a rifle at a bulls eye target. There was always a cookout, accompanied by fresh watermelon grown on the farm and home-made Apple cider. When the sky started to grow dark and a bit of a chill began to set in, they gathered around a fire and told ghost stories. With all these fun activities going on, there was not much thought put into why exactly there was a celebration going on that day. Everyone just saw it as an reason to get together with family and have barbeque. While the day was joyous and entertaining, there was little acknowledgment to the fact that this day was our Independence Day, not just another family reunion in the middle of summer. Bastille Day in France is celebrated similarly to what is done here in America for our 4th of July festivities.

They, like us, light fireworks, have parades, and hold parties to celebrate what they recognize as their Independence Day. July 14th marks the first major event of the French Revolution – the charging and the taking over of the Bastille Prison in 1789. This was a prominent step in establishing a Republic and getting rid of the monarchy’s stranglehold of the government. Canada Day is also has similarities with our American Independence Day festivities. Similar to the traditions found in America and France, they commemorate an important day of their nation’s history by lighting fireworks, going to the beach and holding parades, festivals, outdoor concerts, and carnivals. It marks the anniversary of the Constitution Act, which brought Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Canadian province (now recognized as Ontario and Quebec), as one single country.

America’s celebrations are not too different from other nation’s remembrances of their respective country’s significant moments in history. All three countries’ festivities are social gatherings filled with food, family, and fireworks. The focus is not so much on the patriotic aspect of the day, rather the social one. Patriotism can be defined as “devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country; national loyalty.” Yet this is not always shown in our celebrations.

The idea of patriotism is often forgotten in all the commotion of visiting friends, family, and partying. We get too wrapped up in the flashy part of the holiday, the lights, the food, and the festivities. Patriotism should have more prevalence when it comes to attributing our triumph of achieving independence from the British rule. In conclusion, Independence Day in America is a day which should be held in high reverence, and celebrated accordingly. Commemorating our independence is impertinent for preserving the memory of exactly how our nation’s early citizens were able to persevere and achieve this for us. This holiday is usually just an excuse to hold social gatherings, however this should not be the case anymore.