Across the United States, millions of people celebrated the Fourth of July holiday, marking the 230th anniversary of America's independence. An estimated half a million people gathered in Washington D.C. for the festivities.

The Independence Day celebration in Washington began with a public reading of the "Declaration of Independence" - one of the country's founding documents.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," said a reader.

Iraq war veterans joined civilians as well as actors portraying American historical figures to read aloud from the historic document that the Continental Congress, comprising delegates from the 13 colonies, approved the wording of the Declaration of Independence on this day in 1776.

Later in the day, as temperatures soared to 34 degrees on the national mall, musicians played for thousands of tourists. The celebrations even drew some British citizens who joked they held no hard feelings about American independence.

"Even though we're English, look at all the stars and stripes. We don't mind being defeated," said one of the British tourists

Washington regularly draws hundreds of thousands of tourists for the July 4th holiday, and National Park Service Ranger Harry Gedney says he looks forward to the event every year.

"I've worked this fourth of July 10 years in a row," he said. "For me it's a really fun event, there are just a lot of people, a lot of sun, a lot of heat, a lot of noise, a lot of food, a lot of dancing. It's just a lot of fun, fireworks later, a wonderful concert."

Many visitors like Boston resident Wedlyn Georges, escaped the heat under the National Mall's large shade trees.

"We're going to go rest a little bit, eat, take a walk and see what's going on at the festival," she said.

Most people say they best part of the day is the nighttime fireworks display that ends the festivities. But many, like Maryland-native Amy Weller say just being in the nation's capital for the Independence holiday makes it memorable.

"It's Washington D.C. on the Fourth of July, this is the place to be, it's just nice, it's relaxing," she said.