Before I was One Busy Guy I was One Happy Kid! The July 4 holiday was GREAT! Usually there was a picnic on the lawn and some hearty activity that would leave everyone grass-stained... and don't forget that endless parade with plenty of fireworks at sundown.
To think it all started in the mid 1700's. The original 13 colonies were still being ruled by a monarch across the sea. He collected taxes and levied punishments without ever seeing or hearing the governed. The righteous new Americans were seriously annoyed and set about disrupting the royal efforts. Even if filling Boston harbor with a shipment of tea was meant as a joke, the crown was not amused... they were humiliated. If the internet had been around back then perhaps we would all be British!
The First Continental Congress met to draw up a list of grievances against the crown in September of 1774. On 2 July of 1776, the Second Continental Congress signed this revised document. It was the Declaration of Independence. All 56 men who signed were in danger of being executed by the crown for treason. The document was read aloud throughout the fledgling nation but it was in Philadelphia where guns were fired and fire crackers and candles were lighted. Even today the 'Freedom Festival' is celebrated with costumed actors re-enacting historical scenes. In 1941 congress declared the 4th of July a national holiday.
In 1752 the Liberty Bell arrived in Philadelphia. It cracked with the very first test strike. It was recast several times and tolled well into the 19th century when it cracked again in 1835 at the funeral of Justice John Marshall. Fearing the bell would be lost forever it was removed from the tower and placed on display never to ring again. No living soul has ever heard the Liberty Bell ring.
This holiday most reminds me of the good old summertime. Warm evenings, a late sunset, fireflies and lemonade. Throw in a Barbershop Quartet for good measure and you'll have the quintessential national observance. Life is good!