Independence Day or the day more commonly known as Fourth of July is a federal holiday that commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on that day in 1776 when the United States declared its independence from Great Britain.
The Fourth of July is by far the most popular and celebrated holiday of the summer season, filled with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, picnics, baseball games and ceremonies. Families pack up, gas up the vehicle, and travel to parks, beaches, and other popular tourist spots.
Although the actual vote taken to declare independence from Great Britain took place on July 2 and was thought to become a patriotic holiday long into the future, it was the day two days later when the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence that would usurp the earlier date from the roster of observances. It was on July 2 that John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2 “will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival.”
Contrary to believed history, it would be almost a month later, on August 2nd, 1776, that the document was actually signed by a majority of members, with at least five signing at an even later date. One of the signers, Richard Stockton of New Jersey even recanted his signing when captured by the British and jailed. He even would swear his allegiance to the English king during his incarceration. When released, he would take a new oath of allegiance to the state of New Jersey.
Riots broke out in New York when news of the adoption reached there on July 9th, 1776. The statue of King George III was toppled and melted down to construct 42,000 musket balls for the nation’s fledgling army.
Now, 246 years later, July 4 is celebrated with the fervor that Adams mistakenly predicted would happen on July 2, he said of that day “Pomp and Parade… Games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.”
Alaska, like 36 other states, was not part of the country on that original day, but celebrate the holiday with equal abandon. But, in Alaska, unlike other states, the annual fireworks display in the state’s largest city takes place one night earlier for the obvious reason that daylight doesn’t succumb to darkness until around the midnight hour. Except for that one practical change, celebrations throughout the state, and communities big and small are barely discernible from their counterparts throughout the nation.