The 4th of July in Boston begins with militia firing muskets on Brumfield and Tremont Streets and a parade with fifes and drums. A trumpeter plays Taps from Granary Burying Ground where Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere, and the five killed in the Boston Massacre are buried.
The parade follows Freedom Trail to the Old State House where thousands say the Pledge of Allegiance, sing “God Bless America” and listen to the reading of the Declaration of Independence–240 years after the first time it was read on July 18, 1776. It has been read there every year since 1783.
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
The reader paused and the crowd cheered at the words “totally dissolved.” The reading ended in hip hurray, the band played Yankee Doodle and red, white and blue confetti was shot across the square.
“The 4th of July is fun here, but it had nothing to do with Boston,” says Andrew, a tour guide with The Histrionic Academy in Boston. “John Adams was one of the last of the Declaration signers to die. He wrote a letter to a friend at the end of his life saying he was afraid that when they wrote the history of America, they were going to confuse the revolution with the war. They are two different things.”
“The revolution began in Boston in 1761. It took place in the hearts and minds of the people here and was completely done before the first shots were fired. The war was a result of that. It proved what already existed in Boston.”
American flags are everywhere, from gravestones and hanging baskets to shirts, scarves, shorts and socks. Flags stick out of pockets and wave from cars. Shirts say, “Let’s Make Some Fireworks,” and “May the Wings of Liberty Never Lose A Feather.” A duck boat driver shouts, “Happy 4th of July” and sings “God Bless America” as his tour passes by.
In front of Faneuil Hall, next to the statue of Samuel Adams, a leader of the movement that started the American Revolution, The Breeze Team teaches white men how to be black, how to walk in the ghetto and how to dance. They rename them and call them “soul brothers.”
“Stand like you are getting a ghetto massage. Spread your legs like you are being arrested.”
“Your donation today keeps us out of your house and the courthouse.”
“Just don’t walk away from here like my dad did. If you leave, a black guy will chase you down, and we run fast.”
“We had whites, blacks, Asians, women and kids participating in the show today. There is only one race, the human race. And there is only one nation, a donation.”
Crowds gather at the Boston Common hours before the fireworks. Boys throw a football and try to catch it with a baseball glove and barefoot women in dresses throw a football too. Sophie of “Sophie’s Smokin’ Squeezebox” plays an accordion, taps her foot and makes a doll that looks like her dance in the tip box. A couple kisses as they listen to an Italian love song and a man with two backpacks feeds a squirrel.
Kristy and her sister-in-law Gina came from South Carolina to see the fireworks and spend a week in Boston. Kristy is a breast cancer survivor and seeing the fireworks in person is on her bucket list.
“I was diagnosed with cancer two years ago on July 17,” Kirsty says. “I am clear now. I have overcome. That is what the trip to Boston and seeing the fireworks means to me. Our feet are swollen and sore from all of the walking, and the seats are way too close together in Fenway Park, but our day in Boston is worth it. We had a yard sale so we could eat lobster while we are here.We live life now, while we have it.”
Happy 4th of July from the bucket list city that started a revolution.