Happy Fourth of July everyone! Today we recognize America declaring its independence from Great Britain by hosting backyard parties, attending parades, watching fireworks and eating large quantities of grilled foods and various “salad” dishes. And while this may seem a bit commercialized, it’s actually in line with how the Founding Fathers imagined future anniversaries of the momentous occasion. For instance, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail:
“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.”
There are even several documented examples of how these visionaries would themselves celebrate:
- In 1777, the first organized celebration of the Fourth of July was held in Philadelphia. It featured the discharge of cannon, ringing of bells, a dinner, music, drinking and several toasts, a parade, fireworks and the use of the nation’s colors as decoration.
- In 1778, General George Washington marked July 4th with a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute.
- And that same year, from their post in Paris, France, Ambassadors John Adams and Benjamin Franklin held a dinner for their fellow Americans.
So truly, our good ‘ole American traditions of fireworks, food and friends are entirely appropriate given the precedent set by our Founding Fathers. Which means that today, you should do your part and celebrate the holiday the way George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would have. Host that party. Enjoy some fireworks. Raise a glass to America. It’s the patriotic thing to do.
Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.