It’s a tradition as old as time. Our nation has celebrated the Fourth of July as long as we can remember by staging grand fireworks shows in cities across the country. Why do we commemorate Independence Day by setting off thousands of small explosions in the night sky?
John Adams wanted us to, that’s why. Before the Declaration of Independence was even signed, Adams envisioned fireworks as part of future festivities. In a letter to Abigail Adams in 1776, he wrote that the occasion should be commemorated “with pomp and parade, shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”
The first commemorative Independence Day fireworks were set off on July 4, 1777 in a beautifully choreographed display. By 1783, a small variety of fireworks were available to the public and by the following year, fountains, rockets and cherry trees were just a few of the many pyrotechnics available to the masses.
Historians dispute the actual origin of these beautiful explosives. Some say India is responsible and some credit China for the first gunpowder-infused rockets. No matter the birthplace, spectators gather each year to take part in the festive vision John Adams had so many years ago.
Is it nostalgia or the thrilling act of blowing something up? The bangs and bright colors draw crowds for a multitude of reasons but one thing is universal – it’s always magnificent.
Happy Fourth of July, let freedom ring!