This year: Tuesday, July 04, 2017
This is how the Declaration of Independence starts: "In Congress, July 4th 1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the course of human events..." and it goes on to explain why the colonists felt that they were obligated to remove themselves from the rule of the British Monarchy. It is a document unique in human history, in that it tries to provide a legal and moral basis for conducting the first modern revolution.
This is the document that we choose to use to date the birth of our country; July 4th, Independence Day. It took over eleven years more for the Constitution of the United States to be approved by the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787. While the date in September is more properly the birth day of the United States, we choose to celebrate Independence Day. It says much about the American People that the declaration of our independence is more important to us than the actual formation of oldest surviving republic in the world.
Actually, the date that we use to celebrate the birth of the United States is not really important. What we are celebrating on Independence Day is the fact that the citizens of the thirteen colonies felt that they had rights that the British Crown could not usurp because they were rights "endowed by our Creator". They also realized that, while the Creator bestowed those rights on the people, the people had the responsibility to enforce those rights. It was to this idea that the signers of the declaration pledged "our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."
Since that summer in 1776 we have celebrated the birth of our country on July 4th. Outside of Christmas and Easter, it is probably the holiday that is most widely celebrated by people in this country. People still get together to hold large celebrations in every city and town in the United States. There will be parades, there will be speeches, there will be picnics, there will be concerts, but most importantly, as the sun goes down and the skies darken, there will be fireworks, massive displays of fireworks. Nearly every celebration will have "bombs bursting in air" while the Star Spangled Banner is played.
It is especially fitting that we almost universally celebrate Independence Day with fireworks. This country started the war of its birth on the hills overlooking Boston in April 1775 and ended with the British surrender at Yorktown in October 1781. Even then it took another two years to negotiate the treaty ending the war and for the last British troops to leave New York City. The thirteen colonies took on the British Empire, the strongest empire in the world at the time, and beat them in a long, bloody land war. It is no wonder that fireworks strike such a chord in the hearts of Americans.
The Fourth of July celebrates Independence Day, or more accurately the Independence Declaration Day. It took a lot of fireworks after that declaration for the nation to become independent maybe that is why we end the day's celebration with fireworks.