Faith, Freedom and Fireworks
How Faith, Freedom and Fireworks became a Holiday
Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago we adopted the Declaration of Independence and in turn walked away from the sovereign rule of Great Britain. We now celebrated this day with parades, barbecues and fireworks.
Where we now fill our day with picnics, baseball and reunions with family or friends once were filled with mortar shells and bullets as our forefathers defended our newly founded country.
July 4th almost never happened you know… I don’t mean the day or even the separation from our motherland. The actual separation happened on July 2nd, but it took Congress until the 4th to come to an agreement (and have yet to really agree since) on what is known today as the Declaration of Independence.
John Adams, even he declared back then that the day would be epoch and “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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forever more.” (source: Had a declaration letter)
Even as this day was being established so many years ago it was speculated that we should have bonfires (barbecues), parades, sports (baseball), illuminations (fireworks) and well we all know people tend to fire guns in the air thinking they won’t come back down.
Adams also stated that solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty should occur, we tend to give glory to America and leave God by the wayside in our celebrations. Granted there are songs that mention God, like God Bless America, and the Star Spangled Banner (yes He is mentioned if you pay attention), but the focus is more on the parties and fireworks rather than giving back the glory.
Fireworks were a part of the 4th of July celebrations from the get go, according to the Pennsylvania Evening Post wrote that in Philadelphia, “The evening was closed with the ring of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.” That was back in 1777, before the war was over yet we were already celebrating our freedom.
Since then, over the past two-hundred plus years we have continued to celebrate the 4th of July with fireworks and other fanfare. We also have begun to allow the true reason for our celebration to fade away under the glimmer of the sparkling lights in the night sky.
Many a soldier has died defending this country and fighting for our right to celebrate our faith. These soldiers that make it home are not always ones that are willing to celebrate the 4th of July with fireworks. Many of them lost their best friends, or even their own limbs in battle. Only to come home to explosions and gunfire that is reminiscent of their time in the field.
I spoke with a gentlemen last night in fact that was a bit jumpy as there were fireworks nearby, and he jokingly yet seriously said he was afraid it might trigger his PTSD.
So America, as we celebrate tonight let us take a moment to thank our soldiers and veterans that we have a day to celebrate. Let us make a toast to the memories of those that have passed. Stop by a memorial or grave site and lay some fresh flowers in memory of those that have fought to protect our freedom.
Let us not forget foremost in our celebration to thank Almighty God for His blessings on us and this country. Without our faith, the freedom as we know it today would not exist. Take a moment before devouring your hot dogs and hamburgers at the barbecue and give thanks that you have the freedom and blessings to enjoy it.
Our forefathers knew long ago that the freedom of this country would produce generations of faith driven, freedom fighters. Our freedom does not come easy, we are challenged even today as we celebrate with the safety and security of our country and its future. When we remove faith and prayer during our celebrations we reduce the meaning of the flag that our men and women continue to defend.
In 1777, this day was commemorated by a 13 gun salute at the beginning and end of the day to represent the 13 colonies. Now we have celebratory gunfire that causes injuries every year as people shoot them up in the air without thinking of the consequences of gravity.
In 1778, George Washington issued a double ration of rum to his soldiers as well as an artillery salute and a banquet for the Americans overseas. Today we have parties and barbecues that result in a dangerous combination of drinks and fireworks, not to mention those that get behind the wheel.
There is nothing wrong with carrying on traditions and celebrating the 4th of July with things like fireworks, Nathan’s hot dog eating contests and the like. We, as Americans just should remain thankful as we celebrate, for those that defended us and continue to stand guard as well as thankful and prayerful for the blessings bestowed on this country so that we have something to celebrate.
According to Kennedy back in 1946, when he was just a nominee from Massachusetts he is quoted in saying , “Our government was founded on the essential religious idea of integrity of the individual. It was this religious sense which inspired the authors of the Declaration of Independence: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.’” (Time)
George Washington wrote to his soldiers on July 9th 1776, “The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavor to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country….knowing that now the peace and safety of his Country depends (under God) solely on the success of our arms.” (Time)
No matter what your beliefs are and whether you believe in the theology of there being a God or not, as an American this is what this day was founded upon. We should all pause for moment today and give thanks and reflect that this day started with the belief in God and the founders fought for that belief and the right to believe is our gift.
In closing, enjoy the 4th of July, celebrate it with fireworks, double rations of rum and bonfires. As you do remember to be courteous to those soldiers that may be a bit jumpy in your neighborhoods. Be thoughtful of the dogs that will be fearful tonight, making sure that yours are safe (July 4th is the number one day that dogs run away due to fear of fireworks). Most of all take a moment, give thanks to our Almighty God for giving us this day, that we may pray for his blessing and thankful for our freedom.
How are you celebrating the freedom of the 4th of July this year?
About Charles Johnston
Charles is a Christian, husband and father of fur-kids who shares his walk with others in hopes to help other's along the way.