After over six years of living in Europe, we’ll be celebrating our first Independence Day in the United States since 2007, when we were living in Tampa, Florida. We’ve now been residing in historic Boston for only 6 weeks, and given this is the city that began America’s independence movement from the United Kingdom, we think it’s a fitting place to get reacquainted with this quintessentially American holiday. So what’s celebrating the 4th of July in the United States all about?
A friend of ours in Rhode Island, home of the United States’ oldest continuous 4th of July parade in Bristol recently told me that I’ve never actually properly celebrated Independence Day, given that I grew up in Florida and have subsequently spent so many years living outside the country. For Floridians, drunkenly letting off random fireworks or watching fireworks light the sky on the beach, after grilling hamburgers and drinking beer all day with lots of American flags and friends typically constitutes a good 4th of July celebration.
So even within the USA there are varying opinions on how you should celebrate Independence Day, but for Floridians we simply don’t have a historic parade that dates back to 1785. And some Americans that traditionally get highly inebriated every July 4th might even forgot what they learned in their American government classes when they were younger, that the day celebrates the nation’s adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776.
John Adams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence who went on to be America’s 2nd president, wrote to his wife Abigail in 1776 and referring to Independence Day said “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.” He nailed it as all of this rings true nearly 250 years later. And Incredibly, both he and Thomas Jefferson, the only other American president who was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence, died the very same day on July, 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the nation’s founding document! Also incredible is that James Monroe, the country’s 4th president and adviser in the founding died on July 4th, 1831. Calvin Coolidge is the only American president who was born on the 4th of July in 1872, and served as America’s 30th president from 1923-1929.
As we were recently in Washington just last week, we feel this is a fitting post to share a few photos of America’s beautiful capital, which resembles what ancient Athens looked like. What does Independence Day mean to you and how do you celebrate?…And Happy Birthday, America!
Update: Due to Hurricane Arthur our first American Independence Day since 2007 was entirely wiped out with rain all day. The city of Boston re-scheduled the fireworks and performances for the night of July 3rd but unfortunately we were unable to make it. For those that will be in Boston for July 4th, 2015 it’s one of the best shows in the country with the world famous Boston Pops orchestra performing and always a big time guest band. For 2014 it was ‘The Beach Boys’, unfortunately we totally missed out. We look forward to the show in 2015 though!