John Adams made a bold prediction about American Independence Day celebrations.
In early July of 1776, shortly after delegates from the Colonies voted to part ways with Britain, Adams wrote to his wife Abigail.
“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival,” he wrote. “It ought to be solemnized 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.”1
The day Adams was referring to was the day of the vote, July 2nd.
Maybe he was wrong about the date of Independence Day. But he was certainly right about the loud celebrations that would accompany its observance going forward.
The next year—July 4th, 1777—the first anniversary of our independence was celebrated on the waterfront in Philadelphia with multiple ships firing 13 gun salutes with their cannons. In Boston the event was commemorated with the firing of rockets and shells over the Common.
However, firing off military hardware in the vicinity of large crowds isn’t the best idea. So after the War of 1812, fireworks began to replace combat machinery as a safer way to make festive explosions. And by the end of the 19th century a reporter would comment that “the American Fourth of July is the greatest event the maker of firecrackers knows.”
While shooting off a roman candle is less risky than firing off blank mortars, this kind of pyrotechnic (the kind we as kids called “the good fireworks”) can still start fires, cause injuries, and lead to pets running away from home. As a result, more and more cities and states have banned their use.
Still, Americans spend around $1 billion each year on fireworks for the 4th.
It’s estimated that a “major” community fireworks display will cost about $1000 per minute.
The pricetag for the Macy’s 4th of July show over New York harbor may run as high as $6 million.2
That’s a lot of money going up in smoke for a spectacle that lasts less than an hour. But when we reflect on the wonderful uniqueness of our country and the challenges it has overcome to last nearly 250 years (with the world’s longest surviving constitution3), then the extravagance seems well worth it.
We wish you and your family a happy Independence Day and hope the celebrations give you a renewed appreciation for our freedoms.
If you ever have any questions about your investments or retirement plans, please feel free to give me a call at 801-545-0696.
Stonecreek Wealth Advisors, Inc.
11576 S State Street, Bldg. 1002
Draper, UT 84020
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