As the sun rose on July 4, 1777, 13 gunshots cracked through the early morning air. As the sun set the same day, 13 more were fired. And so, America’s first (independent) birthday was celebrated.
Just a year earlier, America’s founding fathers and their peers—men like John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Thomas Jefferson—signed the Declaration of Independence. These men were among the 56 congressional delegates who endorsed the document which declared America’s freedom.
They knew it wouldn’t be an easy route. Years of fighting would follow, and not just by the colonial troops. Private contractors “helped set the stage for what would become America.” These contractors fought for the country too—as a matter of fact, more than 2,000 privately owned warships were integral to the success of the American Revolution. This legacy of working together toward a common goal is one we are proud of.
Those 13 shots represented the original American colonies—the ones that were declared free from the British Empire, and the ones that formed the brand-new United States of America. Since then, we’ve celebrated this momentous occasion on the Fourth of July every year.
Have you ever wondered why we celebrate the Fourth of July by lighting fireworks? The simple answer is, “because John Adams said so.” In a letter to his wife he detailed his vision of celebrating one of the undeniably most epic birthdays in the world, saying:
“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival. It 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.”
As we light these fireworks and cheer at these parades, we think back on the reason we celebrate.
We are a country founded on the tenets of bravery, patriotism and the promise to protect our great nation, even when facing the greatest adversities. Our forefathers were not scared to stand up for what was right and to fight for our freedom. These values and strengths are the foundation of our country—a foundation we value and continue to fight for.
We’re thankful for our freedom. We’re thankful for our country. We’re thankful for those who continue to fight to protect it. As we think back to that first celebration and those 13 gunshots, we’re remembering what today’s celebration truly means, and wishing each of you a happy, safe, free Fourth of July.