More Than Fireworks 

Written By Riley Neil

The smell of hot dogs on the grill, the thick spray of sunscreen in the air, the splash of water in the pool, and the iconic visual display of fireworks lighting up the summer night sky are what makes up July 4th in America. The traditions of celebrating our independence as a nation started right after the Declaration of Independence was first read publicly on July 8, 1776. The streets of Philadelphia were filled with band music and ringing of bells in a response to the document. The excitement of the young nation could not be contained. One year later, on July 4, 1777, Independence Day was marked by Philadelphia and Congress as a day of celebration for American Independence. It was a day full of thanksgiving, celebration, bonfires, and yes-fireworks. 

The difference, however, between the celebration then and now is that every American used to know what they were celebrating and the significance freedom and independence brought to society. They understood what it took to become a free nation and celebrated that the great American experiment had worked. Today many Americans do not know the history of Independence Day and are desensitized to the blessing of freedom we have in this nation. 

A survey done by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni in 2018 found that more Americans knew that Micheal Jackson is the composer of ‘Billie Jean’ than could identify that the Bill of Rights is a body of amendments to the U.S Constitution. The same survey found that “More than a third of the respondents did not know the century in which the American Revolution took place. Half of the respondents believed the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation or the War of 1812 were before the American Revolution.” Without knowing and understanding our nation’s founding and history, Americans can not accurately honor Independence Day. 

America’s founding and success is unprecedented. The day that the newly formed 13 colonies defeated the world’s superpower, Great Britain, was indeed the day the world turned upside down. While most nations’ national governing documents last 17 years on average, America has only ever had one. Our constitution now has lasted 245 years. Independence Day is a day where we can honor America’s founding documents, ideals, and values that have lasted for 245 years and made us a global superpower. 

We as Americans should find pride in our founding, values, national success, and national growth. Generations gave up their wealth, personal freedoms, and lives so we can live in freedom. The flag has waved proudly as Americans have run into battles, fought economic depressions, thought of new inventions, demanded freedom for everyone, defended the innocent and protected one another.  

Independence Day means more than fireworks. It means more than grilling by the pool. It means more than a day off work. The founding of our nation was unprecedented and the success of our nation is even more so. It is a day to be thankful, to honor the nation and its values, and to reflect on what it truly means to be an American. 

This Independence Day let’s celebrate beyond the fireworks. Celebrate by spending time reflecting on our nation’s history and values. Celebrate by sharing with a friend or a family member what we are really celebrating on this day. Pray and give thanks to God for what he has done and continues to do through America. Celebrate big this weekend with fireworks, hotdogs, and family time, but just remember why we are celebrating and why it matters.