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Fireworks Light US Skies on Independence Day Holiday

Elaborate fireworks displays lighted up the skies in Washington, New York and other U.S. cities Sunday night, as the nation marked its birth 234 years ago.

The July 4 Independence Day holiday commemorates the occasion in 1776 when the 13 original colonies declared independence from Britain during the American Revolutionary War.

In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama hosted about 1,200 military personnel and their families at the White House for a barbecue, concert and view of the fireworks.

Throughout the country, Americans attended barbecues, parades and other events as they observed Independence Day. Festivities took place in such cities as Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, and in Washington.

In the nation's capital, actors portraying America's founders re-enacted the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

In Mount Vernon, Virginia, home of the first U.S. president, George Washington, organizers hosted a wreath-laying at Washington's tomb and a naturalization ceremony for about 100 new U.S. citizens.

President Obama issued an Independence Day statement saying the tenacity, resolve and courage of the nation's founders, in the face of seemingly impossible odds, became the bedrock of the country.

The president also paid tribute to the men and women of the U.S. armed forces who are serving around the world or have given their lives in the line of duty.