the history of independence day

Celebrating Independence Day – in Classic Style

For many of us, being reminded of the history of special events is inspiring.  Independence Day has a very rich and significant history. For American’s, we celebrate the 4th of July as “Independence Day”, a very important reminder to be thankful for where GOD has placed us, in a wonderful location on GOD’S good earth, the USA.

Click on the image at the left to view a full size version of our 4th of July, 2015 greeting.

The History of Independence Day

In 1775, people in New England began fighting the British for their independence. On July 2, 1776, the Congress secretly voted for independence from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence was first published two days later on July 4, 1776. The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence was on July 8, 1776. Delegates began to sign the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776. In 1870, Independence Day was made an unpaid holiday for federal employees until 1941, when it became a paid holiday for them.

Independence Day is a federal holiday. If July 4 is a Saturday, it is observed on Friday, July 3. If July 4 is a Sunday, it is observed on Monday, July 5. Government offices and schools are officially closed. Some businesses may be closed as well. Some employees use one or more of their vacation days to create a long weekend so that they can escape the heat at their favorite beach or vacation spot. This can cause congestion in some places, particularly towards popular holiday destinations. There are many public events, parades, shows and fireworks displays. This may cause local disruption to traffic. Public transit systems do not usually operate on their regular timetables.

The first description of how Independence Day would be celebrated was in a letter from John Adams to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776. He described “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations” throughout the United States. However, the term “Independence Day” was not used until 1791.

Sites across the National Park System will celebrate the holiday with a number of fun and educational activities. From historic weapons demonstrations, to ranger-led programs, to fireworks shows, there are endless ways for you to enjoy the July 4th weekend in our national parks. Whether you’re a bona-fide history buff or simply interested in tracing back the roots of our fascinating American story, the National Park Service protects and preserves important sites of the American Revolutionary War. Over the long weekend, you could:

  • Visit Lexington and Concord, the place where it all started, to see where the first shots of the war rang out in April of 1775.

  • Stroll through the site that is known as the birthplace of America, where the Declaration of Independence was signed July of 1776.

  • Experience the turning point of the war, one of the most important victories over the British army in October of 1777.

  • Take in the memorial that stands where Fort Sackville once stood, the site of Lt. Col. George Rogers Clark’s victory in February of 1779.

  • Walk the site that served as General George Washington’s encampment of the Continental Army during the winter of 1779.

  • Learn about the strategic location that was both the first land battle south of New England (in 1775) and the longest field siege of the war from May to June of 1781.

  • Honor the sacrifice of those who realized our independence at the site of the last major battle of the war in October of 1781.

Interestingly, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both signers of the Declaration of Independence and presidents of the United States, died on July 4, 1826 – exactly 50 years after the adoption of the declaration. It is also important to note that Native Americans lived in the country and each tribe had its own nation and government prior to the European settlers.

Many people display the American flag outside their homes or buildings. Many communities arrange fireworks that are often accompanied by patriotic music. The most impressive fireworks are shown on television. Independence Day is a patriotic holiday for celebrating the positive aspects of the United States. Many politicians appear at public events to show their support for the history, heritage and people of their country. Above all, people in the United States express and give thanks for the freedom and liberties fought by the first generation of many of today’s Americans. The Statue of Liberty is a national monument that is associated with Independence Day.

Independence Day is a day of family celebrations with picnics and barbecues, showing a great deal of emphasis on the American tradition of political freedom. Activities associated with the day include watermelon or hotdog eating competitions and sporting events, such as baseball games, three-legged races, swimming activities and tug-of-war games.

Get your sneakers on and grab your friends and family — it’s time to celebrate the birth of this great nation we call home! As you prepare for a long weekend full of good times and fun in the sun, be sure to check out the events taking place at your local national parks. Celebrate Independence Day by enjoying the national inheritance that is protected within our majestic national parks! Be sure to check out the events being hosted at your local national park.