A small flame flies into the air from the ground and then all of a sudden a huge burst of light fills the sky above. It is a mixture of reds and blues, and then a second one pops into view and it is a beautiful gold color and almost looks like a willow tree with its long, flowing branches coming out from the center.
I don’t know what it is about fireworks, but they have this amazing ability to stop people in their tracks, get people to look up from their phones and watch the beauty above.
On the Fourth of July, fireworks are a perfect exclamation point to a fun weekend full of backyard barbecues and outdoor fun.
Even so, when I watch fireworks, it means a lot more than just something cool to look at. A sense of pride beams from my face as I watch fireworks because they represent everything it means to be an American.
The idea of watching fireworks on the Fourth of July began even before the signing of the Declaration of Independence when John Adams wrote a letter to Abigail Adams on July 3, 1776 that said the Fourth of July should be celebrated “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.”
Adams recognized that the signing of the Declaration of Independence should be an event that was celebrated by Americans for many years to come.
The following year on the Fourth of July, fireworks were put on display in Philadelphia to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
I think fireworks represent the American ideal. The idea that all human beings should have a right to have their own thoughts and ideas, to have freedom.
In its most simple form, the idea of freedom is a powerful one. It is just like a firework. When you release freedom and light it, it eventually bursts and expands for everyone to experience, but if you leave it laying in the box unlit, it just sits there in the dark, waiting for someone to light it.
The idea of freedom is a very special idea, one that not everyone in this world gets to experience. People are persecuted every day for their ideas across the globe, some are even here in America.
Freedom is a beautiful thing, but sometimes it gets convoluted to mean something that we as a country too often stands for. Sometimes people think freedom means you can say whatever you want, whenever you want.
While it is true that we can say whatever we want, whenever we want, words still hurt. Words can cut flesh and can shape lives.
Stopping word violence is something that we as Americans need to stand and fight against. The first settlers in America were fleeing religious persecution and every one of us is here today because our ancestors felt compelled to leave our home county for a similar reason. It was for these reasons and many more that America was shaped the way it is today.
I think this is why our forefathers wanted to make a big deal out of Independence Day. So that more than 200 years later, we would still remember that our neighbors, no matter what their religious or political views are, can still be our neighbors and friends. We can still be cordial and have a good time with them. We can all still watch fireworks under the same stars.