Members share the family traditions and vacation memories that make July Fourth America’s biggest annual bash.
Founding Father John Adams was remarkably prescient when he contemplated what future Independence Day celebrations might be like.
“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,” he wrote in a letter to his daughter, Abigail, on July 3, 1776, the day before Britain’s 13 American colonies unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence.
The following year, the Virginia Gazette described “the ringing of bells” and “a grand exhibition of fireworks” for Philadelphia’s July Fourth celebrations.
More than two centuries later, the essence of the holiday remains largely unchanged, with parades, games, family cookouts, concerts and pyrotechnics taking center stage in towns and cities across the country’s 50 states.
In this year of pandemic-disrupted celebrations and travel restrictions, Members share snapshots of memorable July Fourths and holiday rituals.
“The photo is from an exciting weekend-long reenactment event in 2017 to commemorate the Battle of Ridgefield in Connecticut in April 1777. The event included encampments, artisans, history talks, historic home tours and fife and drum music. The Revolutionary War came to town and history played out before our eyes. It was magical. That was a one-time thing, but we go to the Fourth of July fireworks when we are there or at our summer home in Chatham, Massachusetts.”
“This photo from Bellows Beach on Oahu, Hawaii, in 2014, signifies everything good in life at this age. We were celebrating the Fourth of July with the Springer and Graham families, who lived on the nearby Schofield base. During that time, I became aware of the daily sacrifices they make serving our country. Our friendship began at Trinity Lutheran Church, where our kids went to school together. We have all moved on to other areas of the world but stay in touch thanks to the bonds that time and distance can’t break. The best of summer memories.”
“Working abroad in 2014, with close friends from the States, we planned a family-and-friends vacation to Washington, DC. Nothing encourages feelings of national pride more than a July Fourth spent on the National Mall. Hot dogs, hamburgers and grandma’s baked beans, coupled with a backdrop of gorgeous fireworks over the Washington Monument, made for a day that shall never be forgotten. Cheers from fellow Americans, smiles and nods of understanding as we struggled to contain the exuberance of our small children all contributed to the experience.”
“Before I started my graduate studies in Arizona in 1969, I was hitchhiking from Salina, Kansas, down to Houston, Texas. This old Texan couple picked me up on the road and gave me a ride. They kindly invited me to stay at their lovely home outside Houston for a few days. My hair was quite long, so they took me to the barber shop to straighten me out. On July Fourth, when the picture was taken, we attended a service at the local church.”
“Every July Fourth, we decorate our house in Philadelphia in red, white and blue, attend the local parade and visit the New Jersey shore to stay at Congress Hall, America’s oldest seaside resort, to enjoy lawn games and a barbecue.”
“This picture was taken seven years ago in Tybee Island, a small Georgia beach town with lots of charm. We spend most of the day on the beach, playing in the waves and sunbathing. In the evening, we grill hot dogs and hamburgers or make low-country boil with friends and our next-door neighbors. As the sun sets, we head back down to the beach and wait for the amazing fireworks that are set off from the pier. The cheers never fail to make me happy. One of my favorite traditions is the next morning when we get up just after sunrise to clean the beach. Revelers leave a lot of trash and it feels good to make sure our beach is clean.”
“Every Fourth of July, our family would travel to the small town of Bend, Oregon, to meet up with extended family and friends. During the day, we’d take part in the town pet parade, with decorated bikes and dogs, then enjoy popsicles and a festival in the park along the river. Later that night, we’d cook barbecued ribs and many sides and then head out to watch the fireworks show.”
“This photo won’t win any aesthetic awards, but it does show a slice of our family’s Fourth of July tradition in Texas. Hidden from view are the dogs swimming in the pool, the kids shooting hoops in the driveway, one dad trying to catch a nap in the hammock, girls giggling in the big oak treehouse, kids trampolining, the smell of meat on the grill and Bomb Pops melting by the pool. Such happy noise all day and into the night when the fireworks are joyously launched.
“This picture was taken at my dad’s lake house in Indian Lake, Pennsylvania. It was my wife Yumiko’s first real July Fourth away from New York City or Tokyo. She came to appreciate the festive, summer lake culture in the United States, with boating, waterskiing, swimming, big family and neighborhood barbecues, fireworks and wide-open spaces.”
Words: Nick Jones
Independence Day Celebration
An afternoon of online fanfare and Club-crafted spreads of American classics.
July 4 | 12pm