Sapna Parikh

July 4th: The Meaning

Sapna Parikh
July 4th: The Meaning

Photo: As everyone around him talked and texted, I watched this boy as he stood with unwavering focus and waved the American flag. Long Island City, Queens (July 4, 2017)

By Sapna Parikh 

Illuminations  

Did you know that fireworks have been a part of our Independence Day festivities since the very beginning?  Yup, since the first pyrotechnic display in Philly in 1777, and that's exactly how John Adams wanted it.

On the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, he wrote a letter to his wife Abigail and said the day (technically referring to July 2nd) ought to be celebrated (well, actually he said "solemnized") with "...illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more."

Optimism  

With his call for celebration, Adams thought critics may consider him to be a little too enthusiastic.  There were, afterall, many lives lost in the struggle for Independence.   He goes on to defend himself, saying “I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. -- Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means.” 

Maybe we could all use a little dose of optimism right now.  At least there’s someone who believes there is a light at the end of our politically divided tunnel!

The Letter

If you want to see the full excerpt from John Adams and his wish for an annual Independence Day celebration, scroll down. For more on what Adams said, click Here. And if you want to see his actual handwritten letter to his wife back in 1776, click here.  (I wish someone would write me an awesome letter like this!)

The red arrow is pointing to the line where Adams calls for “...illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”    Source:  Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive.  Massachusetts Historical Society

The red arrow is pointing to the line where Adams calls for “...illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.” 

Source: Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society

Getting ready for the fireworks and making some friends on the Pier in Long Island City

Getting ready for the fireworks and making some friends on the Pier in Long Island City

Meaning

(Reflections from July 4th 2017)

What does the 4th of July mean to you this year?  For the first time, I covered the New York City Macy's Fireworks show live.  In between 8 live reports, I spoke to a bunch of great people who were willing to share their thoughts with me.

I was wondering if the current political divide impacted their view of this holiday?  Despite what I perceived to be a subtle sense of resignation at the state of the nation, "Celebration" still seemed to be the overall theme of the day... this quick video has some highlights of their perspectives.

Length: 54 seconds

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.
I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. 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.
You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.
— John Adams