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Illuminations of freedom

America's 13 colonies were separated from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress approved a resolution declaring the United States independent. John Adams wrote: The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. 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 this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more. (1)

He was two days off due to the fact Americans celebrate Independence Day on July 4-- the date shown on the Declaration of Independence and the date on which, most speculate, the document was signed. However, Adams's prediction would come true as, every year, people all over the 50 states of our nation celebrate with parades, music, shows, food and festivities. Most noteworthy, his predicted illuminations light up the night sky-- more commonly referred to as fireworks.

Fireworks were launched on the very first Independence Day held in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, smack dab in the middle of the Revolutionary War. The grand display was intended to raise spirits during a time of suffering. “I think they wanted to create a morale booster, and it worked,” said James R. Heintze, author of The Fourth of July Encyclopedia, in an interview with USA Today. “The news spread, and Fourth of July celebrations with fireworks took hold quickly in other places.”

Fireworks continue to raise spirits all over the United States and, every year, displays become bigger, brighter and more technologically advanced. The American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) estimates that over 14,000 fireworks displays light up the nation's sky each Independence Day! This includes our very own Madison County. Make sure you pack a lawn chair and visit one of the grand fireworks displays planned for July 4 at Lake Frances in Madison and Haffye Hays Park in Greenville. Like John Adams predicted, Madison County and the rest of the United States will, once again, become illuminated because we became free. Now that's something to celebrate!

1.  Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776, ‘Had a Declaration…’. Adams Family Papers. Massachusetts Historical Society.

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