July 4, 2021, will mark the 245th anniversary of the founding of the United States. Independence Day -- known colloquially as the Fourth of July -- is celebrated in the United States on July 4 annually. It marks the date in 1776 when the Second Continental Congress finally approved the US Declaration of Independence, marking the freedom of the thirteen American colonies from British colonial rule. The day is usually marked with a splendid display of fireworks, as citizens gather across several states to observe a pyrokinetic show in the night sky.
To date, the largest of such displays has taken place in New York City, where more than 22 tons of pyrotechnics were held in the East River in 2009.
At first glance, a grand display of fireworks may just seem like just another form of outdoor celebration, but the tradition holds a particular significance in the day's history. It was on July 3, 1776, that John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers of the Nation, wrote to his wife Abigail that July 4 must be celebrated "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 forevermore." Adams had set the tone for the Fourth of July celebrations a day before the US Declaration of Independence was even signed.
It wasn't until a year later, however, that the first formal display of fireworks was set off. On July 4, 1777, the night sky in Philadelphia was illuminated with a brilliant display of pyrotechnics, in the spirit of John Adams' words. That same year, fireworks also lit up the sky in Boston. A 13-gunshot salute was held in Bristol, Rhode Island, once in the morning and then again in the evening, setting the tradition for years since.
Today, firework displays are held on July 4 in many states during the evening after dark at places such as parks, fairgrounds, or town squares. However, several states have also either banned fireworks or limited the display size out of safety concerns.