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Celebrating July 4th in America

Americans observe their Independence Day on July 4. People across the country will celebrate in many different ways. Jim Bertel narrates.

July 4, Independence Day, is a patriotic day in the United States. On that day in 1776, the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence from Britain.

For many the day means time off from work, time with family and friends.

Dominic Nicola explains. "I realize it's an Independence Day, 4th of July, 1776-1778 or so, Ben Franklin, all that great stuff, but what it's turned into after 200 plus years is just a wonderful day off to enjoy the country, and fireworks, and the flag. "

Ikbek Tafi adds, "It's usually a family time for us. "

Chris Visic shares his tradition. "We typically have a family camping trip to Devil's Lake in Baraboo, Wisconsin, but this year, we're going to be participating in our local parade for my son's Indian guide group."

Many Americans attend daytime celebrations such as picnics, barbecues and parades.

Like many other U.S. cities, Washington D.C., the nation's capital, has an annual Fourth of July parade.

But for many, the real highlight comes after dark.

Heather Case says she’s going to watch the fireworks.

Claudia Whitman who is from Maine says her tradition is usually sailing out to watch fireworks.

Fireworks have been associated with the Fourth of July since 1777, when citizens of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania celebrated with bonfires, gunshots and explosions. These days, people enjoy buying smaller fireworks and staging their own neighborhood shows.

But there is still the tradition in places of the large, spectacular pyrotechnics display.

The Fourth of July also brings reflection. Some choose to observe the holiday by thinking about the current state of the nation.

As she reflects, Claudia says, I'm pretty disgusted with our country right now, so I can't say I'm tied in to a lot of the heavy strong positive feelings about the country right now. So I guess I reflect a little bit on a lot of the misdirection we're headed in right now.

For others, it's a time to appreciate the freedom that began with the Declaration of Independence.

For Tafi the 4th of July is about history. " We try to make sure that these national holidays are not just barbecuing and fun times, there's an underlying historical meaning to it, so we try to emphasize that."

The most American of holidays - the Fourth of July.