History of Independence Day
As we gather together this holiday weekend, many of us will be celebrating the U.S. Independence Day. It’s a day that has been celebrated for more than two centuries, but the origins of July 4th started small and grew into a federal holiday.
Independence Day is celebrated each 4th of July to mark the day in 1776 when the Continental Congress adopted the final version of the Declaration of Independence, which would form the United States as we know it today.
One year later, the first Independence Day was celebrated in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was signed. There were bonfires, bells, and even fireworks. This tradition eventually spread to small towns, which held their own observances. They would have picnics and military displays to mark the occasion.
Nearly 100 years later, in 1870, Congress decided to make Independence Day an official holiday in the U.S., and in 1938 it became a paid holiday for federal employees.
Another important part of Independence Day celebrations is the music. Every year, you will likely hear the song “Stars and Stripes Forever,” played during marches and parades. This is because it is the official U.S. national march.
The song itself was written by John Phillip Sousa in 1896. He thought of it on his way back from a vacation in Europe, and when he got home, he wrote it down and played it for a local crowd in Philadelphia. They loved it, and the popularity of the song grew as the years went on. Finally, it was adopted as the official National March of the United States by congress in 1987.
Have a safe July 4th celebration!