Bright colors accompany each pop, crackle and sizzle that touches the evening sky as America breaks out its most elaborate annual display of stars and stripes.
We recreate the image in nearly every neighborhood across the nation, host celebrations and gather with family and friends to witness it.
It’s no secret: We love breaking out fireworks to celebrate one of the most important days in our nation’s history, but how did this beautiful, boisterous tradition become synonymous with America’s Independence Day?
Turns out, we owe one of our oldest, most beloved traditions to President John Adams.
According to Better Homes and Gardens, the tradition dates back to the holiday’s very first anniversary in 1777.
Just one year before, any “fireworks” in the American colonies were metaphorical.
The day 13 British colonies dissolved their ties to the British monarchy and began a new life as a fledgling nation set into motion one of the most iconic eras in world history.
A new form of government came along, born out of the courage to stand against the long-reigning British Empire on which the sun would never set.
All thanks to the Declaration of Independence.
Before the signing of the Declaration, Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, saying that the day “ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward, forevermore.”
We can see today that many colonial Americans shared in Adams’ sentiment.
As soon as one year after the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain, the first-ever Fourth of July celebration spawned in Philadelphia.
The celebration, complete with “illuminations, bells, a parade, and explosions” and a “13-gun salute to honor each of the 13 colonies” added in 13 fire rockets that were launched into the sky from the town square, according to Better Homes and Gardens.
Ever since the Fourth of July, 1777, Americans have yet to leave the skies devoid of explosive colors to commemorate their nation’s founding.
Turns out, we have our Founding Fathers to thank not only for our independence itself but also for the annual celebrations surrounding that most transformative day in American history.
“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival,” Adams said, speaking of the Fourth of July.
Two hundred and forty-five years later, we know he was right.
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