Michael Ingmire: Fireworks – A Questionable Tradition

I have a partial solution to some of our issues with the country of China. Before July 4, 2024, boycott the buying of all fireworks. The country of China is the primary manufacturer for the majority of fireworks sold throughout the world. If we pay more than lip service to the boycotting of Chinese products, we should stop filling their coffers with the purchase of July 4th fireworks. If this was a worldwide boycott, it would cost the Chinese millions, if not billions, of dollars.

The practice of igniting fireworks on Independence Day is a questionable tradition. Fireworks became ubiquitous to the celebration of the Fourth of July starting in the Summer of 1776, during the first months of the Revolutionary War. On July 1, delegates of the Continental Congress were meeting in Philadelphia. They were debating whether the colonies should declare independence from Britain’s Parliament and to sever all ties with King George III.

During this July 1 meeting, news arrived that British ships had sailed into New York Harbor. These British forces poised an immediate threat to General George Washington’s troops. On July 2 nd , 12 of the thirteen colonies voted for independence. New York, voted for independence on July 9 th .

On July 3rd, even as the Continental Congress revised a draft of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of
Independence, John Adams wrote this to his beloved wife, Abigail:

The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epoch in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival…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 to forever more.

As we all know, John Adams was off by a few days. On July 4th, after making a total of 86 changes to Jefferson’s draft, the Continental Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence. (Though most of the delegates would not sign the document until August 2nd.) There were small spontaneous, celebrations, that greeted the declaration’s first public readings, in front of local militia, in Pennsylvania and in New Jersey.

The first organized celebration of Independence Day occurred on July 4, 1777, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Considering its origins, fireworks first appeared in China in 200 B.C. The ancient Chinese would roast pieces of bamboo in fire. Hollow pockets in the bamboo would explode, allegedly warding off evil spirits. By 900 A.D. during the Tang dynasty, Chinese Alchemists created an early version of gunpowder by mixing saltpeter, charcoal and sulfur. They would stuff this crude version of gunpowder into hollowed-out bamboo sticks, roasting them to create loud explosions.

Fireworks are a traditional part of the Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Moon festivals. Why contribute to the celebration of pagan gods?

By the 10th century, the Chinese had figured out that you could attach fireworks to arrows, creating makeshift bombs. By the 12th century, they learned how to fire explosives into the air, creating the first aerial displays. By 1240 AD, the Arabs had discovered gunpowder and its uses from the Chinese. Arab writers referred to fireworks, rockets and other incendiaries as “Chinese Flowers.”

So why has the noble idea of John Adams, to acknowledge America’s freedom degenerated into such a drunken, unsafe mess?

Because of the easy accessibility of fireworks, in the states that sell them legally, any fool can purchase a firework. It does not take a lot of common sense to light a fuse. Add alcohol to the mix and you have a recipe for missing fingers and other injuries.

So, I ask a question: Why would we purchase fireworks, to honor our freedom, from a country whose government only honors tyranny and control–a country that fervently hates us? Why not make fireworks in America?

Better yet, maybe we need to reconsider how we celebrate the 4th entirely. Consider the veterans who are returned to PTSD nightmares because of a supposedly innocent firework. Or the animals that are traumatized every year, unnecessarily. Where is the celebration in that?

Instead of exploding fireworks, maybe we need to realize a peaceful and meaningful acknowledgement of one of the better parts of our country’s history. Perhaps instead, we need to explode in prayer.

Michael Ingmire

Michael Ingmire, is a musician, writer, commentator, activist and author based in North Carolina. As a musician he has shared stages with artists like John Lee Hooker, Albert King, Bo Diddley, Dr. Mac Arnold, Wilson Pickett, Allen Ginsberg, Kenny Neal, Bob Margolin, among many. Michael's work is available for listening or purchase at reverbnation.com under Michael Wolf Ingmire. Since the death of his nephew, Sean Smith, in the September 2012 Benghazi attacks, Michael’s writing has taken on a strong political edge. He has previously written about Benghazi extensively for The Daily Caller and foxnews.com. Starting in September 2015, Michael has been a consistent contributor to Politichicks, writing about, political, musical, and social topics. His article, “Benghazi: A Tale of Two Reports,” closes out the chapter on Islam in the collection, “Politichicks: A Clarion Call to Political Activism.”

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