Parades, impressive pyrotechnics, and family barbeques. While these elements are seemingly random and unrelated, each one is united by the nationwide urge to celebrate one all-important historical event: July 4, 1776. On this day in history, delegates from the 13 colonies rallied in Philadelphia to secure the passage of a carefully crafted document that was to free the colonists of Britain's tyranny and - most importantly - declare America's independence. This momentous occasion in American history was welcomed with tears, cheers, and fireworks by the colonists of the day; astonishingly, this patriotic spirit holds true with American citizens 236 years later!
How can this national holiday be celebrated with unrelenting gusto year after year, you ask? For an inquisitive journalist such as myself, this question can only be answered by asking ordinary Floridians another one: what does Independence Day mean to you?
For Pat Reynolds, a 37 year old orthodonist from Coconut Grove, Independence Day is the perfect time to appreciate and celebrate the freedoms granted to every American. "We are so blessed to live in the greatest country in the world," Reynolds said. "It's hard not to appreciate the genius of our founding fathers, who put together a system of government that gave power to the people. We may be a young country, but we are envied by all others."
Every time the fourth of July rolls around, 42 year old Ryan Murphy finds himself overwhelmed by emotion. "Independence Day turns me into such a cry baby," said Murphy, "But the endurance of the American spirit is so moving. For me, it produces an emotion that is both humbling and sentimental."
7 year old Kristen Corban offers a more lighthearted view of the national holiday. "The Fourth of July is special to me," Corban said, "Because I get to wear my sparkly red headband and dance with sparklers."
After serving three years in Vietnam in 1968, self-proclaimed patriot David Russo finds special motivation in America's birthday. "Eat, drink, and celebrate... but don't get complacent," Russo said. "The Fourth of July reminds us of everything we risked for independence, and everything we could lose if we don't protect America's name. It motivates me to take no freedom for granted."
For 17 year old Joseph Marshall, the beauty of Independence Day lies in its unique ability to unite every family in the country. "When I watch the fireworks from the top of my building," Marshall said, "I can see them being set off for miles and create a blanket of colorful sparks across the sky. I then realize that millions of Americans are with their families, all celebrating the day we declared our independence. On this day, we are all united."
While these perspectives are all very different, one thing is clear: Independence Day holds a very special place in the heart of every American. A day that unites, motivates, and prompts clever accessorizing, the Fourth of July has endured for 236 years and will endure until the end of time.