On July 4th, 1776 the United States laid down its claim to be a free and independent nation by adopting the Declaration of Independence. Today, Independence Day is celebrated and honored in many forms such as fireworks, BBQs and parades. It is an opportunity for Americans to express patriotism and love of country including reflecting on the sacrifices from those in the military.
Independence Day will be officially observed on Sunday, July 4, 2021, our nation’s 245th birthday.
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Independence Day History
On June 11th, 1776 the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to formally sever ties with Great Britain. Thomas Jefferson, who considered an esteemed writer, was selected to draft the document. After 86 revisions and on July 4th, 1776 the Continental Congress signed the final version.
The first readings of the document included ringing of bells and band music. The following Fourth of July Congress was adjourned in Philadelphia and everybody celebrated with bells, bonfires and fireworks. Soon these customs spread to other areas within the 13 colonies and new customs began to develop such as picnics, speeches, games, military displays and of course fireworks. These traditions continued for almost a century before Congress finally established Independence Day as a holiday.
Independence Day Facts
- The original copy of the Declaration is housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and July 4 has been designated a national holiday to commemorate the day the United States.
- 56 People signed the Declaration of Independence.
- John Hancock was the first signer and famously had the largest signature.
- The oldest signer, at age 70, was Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania.
- The youngest signer, at age 26, was Edward Rutledge of South Carolina.
- In July 1776 there were an estimated 2.5 million people living in the Colonial United States.
- The Declaration of Independence was revised 86 times.
- The first Independence Day was celebrated on July 8, 1776.
- Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on the Fourth of July, 1826.
- The U.S. population of in the 13 colonies was 2.5 million in 1776. It is more than 130 times larger today at 330 million.
- The only county named Independence is in Arkansas.
Salute to America
The U.S. military will provide aerial, musical and ceremonial support to this year’s 4th of July celebration in Washington, D.C. Additionally, there will be flyovers of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, as well an aerial salute to several cities that played roles in the American Revolution. The focus will be cities of the American Revolution including Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore. From there they will join other Department of Defense and heritage aircraft in the Salute to America over our nation’s capital.
Things to do on the Fourth of July
Many traditional events have been canceled due to the ongoing pandemic. Below, we’ve compiled a list of things to do that are still on as well as virtual events you can safely enjoy from home
- Barbecue with friends and family
- Watch a fireworks show (there are still a few)
- Go to a blockbuster movie release
- Have a block party
- Light some fireworks (safely & legally of course)
- Attend a baseball game
- Run a July 4th race
- Find water – Boating, beaching and water skiing
- Watch a 4th of July themed movie
- Find a National Park hosting a July 4th event
Patriotic Things to do on the Fourth of July
- Fly the American Flag
- Send deployed soldiers letters and care packages.
- Wear Red, White and Blue
- Purchase a flag flown over the capital
- Print the American Flag
- Volunteer to help our veterans
- Take a trip to a special fort, park, or monument near you
- Go to a Fourth of July celebration
- Attend a Revolutionary War reenactment
Most states plus the District of Colombia and Puerto Rico allow some or all types of consumer fireworks
States that allow only Sparklers and/or other novelties
States that ban all fireworks
- Arizona (Novelty fireworks allowed)
- New Jersey
- New York
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