Memories of 4th of July

Commemoration of America’s independence “…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 forever more.” 

~ John Adams wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail, dated July 3, 1776.

The first July Fourth celebration in America was in 1777, a year after our country declared independence from England. The ways we celebrate have varied in the years since then, but several common traditions have emerged like parades and fireworks. From the 1770s to around the 1860s, many towns began the day with artillery fire at dawn if they had cannons on hand. If there were no cannons to be found, some of the men would get up and shoot their muskets into the air to offer a thunderous welcome to Independence Day. 

Fourth of July in our world today might include barbecues, pool parties, neighborhood gatherings and watching fireworks at night. Many of us have happy memories of the Fourth from our past, and we’ve asked several of our friends and readers to revisit their memories, so we can share them with you.

“We went to Georgetown, SC every year to watch fireworks over the harbor from the deck of a friend’s house who had a fantastic view. The small town coming together to watch the fireworks display over the shrimp boats and other small boats in the harbor made a beautiful picture, and it was a happy, wonderful time in my life with good friends, good feelings, cocktails on the deck and happiness. We loved our country and loved celebrating it like that.” 

~ Margaret C.

“It was the bicentennial in 1976, and we had gone to Raleigh, NC for the big festivities around the capitol building and the fairgrounds. I was five years old, and everything seemed magical. There were crowds of people who showed up to celebrate the Fourth; my mom had made a big deal of getting flags to hold to show our patriotism. It rained just a little, but it didn’t affect the fireworks at all. To this day, that is still the most beautiful fireworks display I have ever seen. The memory of me with my young parents celebrating what was a big deal Fourth of July…200 years of independence, is my best Fourth of July memory.” 

~ Karenna M.

“We lived on a street in the 90s where all the neighbors would get together to chip in to buy fireworks. During the day on the Fourth, the kids would all play outside while the moms got the tables of food set up and the dads got the grills ready. We would play and, later on, eat a great feast until it was time for the fireworks. When it was dark, a few of the dads would take charge and get the fireworks ready. For a pretty small street, we put on quite an incredible show. Memories of that time and the closeness of our families will always be my best Fourth of July memory.”

~ Julie K.

“My dad had just come home from a business trip, and we weren’t really prepared for the Fourth of July. We didn’t know it but he had brought sparklers with him, and we celebrated with sandwiches for dinner and sparklers in the backyard with my two brothers and our parents. To us, it was perfect.”

~ Helena J.

“I was pregnant with my first child and feeling so sick I didn’t want to be sociable or cook or do much of anything. We had gone to stay at the beach for a week and, although we had planned for a crowd of people to join us, we canceled and just had my husband and myself and his parents. What I didn’t know is that our beach house had the most amazing view of the fireworks being set off in that little beach town. We all sat out on the deck and had the best seats in town.” 

~ Kacey R.


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