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Celebrating Independence According to John Adams

In 1776, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife detailing how he thought Independence Day should be celebrated. After over 200 years, we continue to accomplish his vision. Read Transcript


HOST: On July 3, 1776, John Adams

wrote these words to his wife, Abigail,

after the nation's independence had been declared.

JOHN ADAMS: But the day is passed.

The second day of July 1776, will

be the most memorable epoch in the history of America.

HOST: Adams became the second president of the United States

in 1797 and served one term.

Until his death, July 4, 1826, John Adams

lived peacefully on his farm in Quincy, Massachusetts

and observed five decades of independence.

Even today, over two centuries later,

Adam's letter reminds all of the cost in blood,

toil, and treasure to maintain this declaration.

JOHN ADAMS: Yet, through all the gloom,

I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory.

I can see that the end is more than worth all the means.

HOST: Region University, Associate Professor of history,

Dr. Josh McMullen.

He's looking at it at the birth of this nation.

This nation is still in its infant stage.

He's confident in the idea of America.

He's confident in exceptionalism of America.

He's confident in the Providence of God.

JOHN ADAMS: I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated

by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.

It ought to be commemorated as a day of deliverance

by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.


There is also another part to the letter

that says, we need to pause on the 4th of July.

We need to think about the immensity of what we're

celebrating, the uniqueness of the country,

of this great American experiment.

HOST: Today, America is celebrating

another year of independence.

In Washington DC, Garden State fireworks

is lighting up the skies above the nation's capitol

with another award winning aerial display.

Light show choreographer, Chris Santore.

We are working some long hours.

Lifting heavy equipment, I mean, mortar racks

could weigh 70 or 100 pounds.

Getting equipment in place, getting everything

set to deliver that vision from the page to the sky.

It's labor intensive, but it's worth it.

When you get that rock star 20 minutes of the sky is rocking

and the crowd is all into it, it reminds you of why you do it.

HOST: Soon after arriving to the United States in 1890,

Augustine Santore opened his first fireworks plant

in New Jersey.

We keep alive the crazy Italian tradition of making

these massive multi-break shells,

some of them weighing up to 100 pounds.

HOST: For over 120 years, this family run business

remains the oldest and largest American manufacturer

of display fireworks.

So many things come together from the ground up producing

a musically choreographed display.

You have to have a very multi-faceted, talented group

of people.

HOST: Unlike the nation's early observances,

today's can be highly technical.

Still all accomplish John Adams vision of how the 4th of July

should be celebrated.

JOHN ADAMS: 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.


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