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Celebrating Our Independence The Fight for Our Freedoms and Rights
Most people look forward to three things in July: fireworks, parades, and cookouts! The annual Fourth of July celebrations are here at last, helping to brighten our year with a bit of fun. But this holiday is also a time to acknowledge our freedoms as a people and country. It’s a time for all Americans to remember what it took to obtain our freedom and honor those individuals who gave their lives so we can celebrate today. The Fourth of July, or Independence Day, first became a federal holiday in 1941, but U.S. citizens had celebrated this day for 165 years before then, back when the Declaration of Independence was formally adopted by the Continental Congress. It was on July 2, 1776, that the Continental Congress voted on and passed Richard Henry Lee’s proposal for the country’s independence with a near-unanimous vote (two abstained). Two days later, on July 4, Congress endorsed the proposal, officially marking the birth of American independence. In the wake of such a monumental moment, Americans found several interesting ways to celebrate the new holiday. Before the Revolution took place, the colonists used to gather together to celebrate the birthday of King George III. People would create bonfires, make speeches, and ring bells. However, in the summer of 1776, many celebrated their new freedom and the end of the monarchy’s power over them by holding mock funerals for the king.
there were public readings of the Declaration of Independence, as well as bonfires and concerts. The following summer, Philadelphia became the first state to hold an annual celebration of independence on July 4, even though most of the country and Congress was still concerned with the war. In 1778, George Washington celebrated Independence Day by issuing double rum rations to his soldiers. Then in 1781, Massachusetts was the first state to make July Fourth an official state holiday. Once the Revolutionary War came to an end, people all across the country continued to commemorate the Fourth of July every summer, and this is when many of our current traditions began. In 1777, fireworks were first used in recognition of the holiday. Philadelphia held a wonderful display of the fireworks, topping the night off with 13 cannon blasts to honor the 13
colonies. With each passing year, the fireworks became more exuberant and have since become an integral part of the celebrations across the nation, enjoyed now for centuries. However, Independence Day means far more than fireworks, bonfires, and parades. The soldiers who fought and died during the Revolutionary War did so for one purpose: to be free citizens in their own country. The Declaration of Independence, paired with the Constitution, gives U.S. citizens freedom and rights that the government cannot disregard. We now enjoy the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the right to assemble, the right to petition government, trial by jury, and much more. It is these freedoms and rights we honor by commemorating the Fourth of July each year, and we should always keep this in mind during this time of year. No matter where you are this year or how you choose to celebrate, let’s not forget what it took for us to reach this point. Let’s celebrate America’s 244 birthday this year and the freedoms we’ve enjoyed for over two centuries.
Additionally, several parades were held in large cities, cannons and muskets were fired, and
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