The United States celebrates its Independence Day annually on July 4. However, more people know the public holiday as the Fourth of July. The U.S. is celebrating the day of the publication of the country’s declaration of independence. From 1606 until 1775, some provinces of the present-day U.S. were territories of Great Britain. Their freedom from being British territories led to the formation of the United States. Americans celebrate the Fourth of July to commemorate their forefathers’ desire to become an independent and free nation.
A brief history of the U.S. Independence Day
In the 16th century, Great Britain, like Spain, embarked on increasing their territories overseas. They wanted to establish some colonies in North America. Jamestown in Virginia was the first permanent British colony. Through the years, Great Britain found a total of 13 territories, including:
- Connecticut Colony
- Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
- Colony of Virginia
- Delaware Colony
- Province of Georgia
- Province of Maryland
- Province of Massachusetts Bay
- Province of New Hampshire
- Province of New Jersey
- Province of New York
- Province of North Carolina
- Province of Pennsylvania
- Province of South Carolina
Eventually, conflict developed between England and the colonies. In the summer of 1776, a Continental Congress in Philadelphia was convened by the colonies. In a session at the Pennsylvania State House in June, Virginia statesman Richard Henry Lee presented a resolution for the United Colonies to become free and independent states. His resolution also added that they want to free from their allegiance to Great Britain and dissolve all their political connection to the British Crown.
The resolution became the incentive to draft a more formal Declaration of Independence, although it did not happen immediately as some of the colonies hesitated, particularly New York. But eventually, a committee was formed, and they started to write the draft statement. Members of the committee were Thomas Jefferson (Virginia), who was tasked to draft the declaration, Robert R. Livingston (New York), Benjamin Franklin (Pennsylvania), Roger Sherman (Connecticut), and John Adams (Massachusetts).
The Continental Congress reconvened on July 1, 1776, and the declaration was adopted the following day. Nine colonies voted for the resolution while New York abstained. Delaware was undecided and South Carolina and Pennsylvania. The formal adoption of the Declaration of Independence was on July 4, 1776. It was signed by the President of the Continental Congress, John Hancock.
These 13 colonies became the original group known as the United States.
You can still see the original copy of the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives, located in Washington, D.C.
How do Americans celebrate Independence Day?
Being a public holiday, with schools, government offices and several business establishments closed, Americans look forward to the holiday. When the day falls on a Saturday, the country celebrates it on the previous day. When the holiday falls on a Sunday, people celebrate it on Monday.
Many employees schedule part of their vacation days in time for the holiday to have a long weekend.
Aside from flocking to popular vacation destinations, many Americans enjoy watching or participating in public events, shows, and parades. One of the highlights of the day is the fireworks displays.
Americans usually display the American flag in their homes. Typically, American families go to parks or beaches to have a picnic. Many wait for the Independence Day parade in their city. In some areas, local officials read the Declaration of Independence before declaring the start of the festivities. Some communities organize concerts, bonfires, and other outdoor activities that families can enjoy.
Will the pandemic affect the celebration of Independence Day 2020?
Millions of Americans look forward to celebrating Independence Day this year. Celebrating the holiday is already part of their tradition, with many using the day to hold family reunions
But with the pandemic and the regulations it imposes, from staying at home to limiting public gatherings and canceling shows, concerts, and parades, there’s not much activity people can expect to participate in or witness. So, yes, COVID-19 will make a huge impact on the celebration this year.
Annual parades that many cities usually hold were cancelled. The parade in Washington, D.C., which is generally the highest crowd-drawer, is one of the significant casualties.
However, fireworks displays which are part of Independence Day celebrations, will push through, albeit secretly. Organizers are finding new ways to make it work. In Houston and Boston, organizers are encouraging Americans to watch the fireworks shows online or on TV. In Macy’s New York, the company held several fireworks shows for several nights at different times at undisclosed locations to avoid crowds from gathering. The show usually lasted for five minutes.
Although events were cancelled, there are still several events available for online viewing. The Capitol Fourth concert that Washington, D.C. hosts, was pre-recorded, with performances held at famous locations. Americans can view the show on TV and online.
An ”online block party” from an art center in Los Angeles will live stream the show on Facebook. Meanwhile, the iconic contest, Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, will still push through, with organizers and participants observing COVID-19 precautions. People can even watch it on TV.
However, restaurants and bars will remain closed. Moreover, some parks and beaches, especially the beaches in California and Florida, will be closed.
But for people who enjoy virtual tours, they can look forward to the streaming of the USS Constitution’s virtual tour, one of the oldest warships in the world. Aside from the virtual tours, the ship will perform a 21-gun salute.
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