Across the United States, Americans are celebrating this country's Independence Day Monday.

The national holiday commemorates the birth of the United States 229 years ago - on July 4, 1776, when members of the Continental Congress - lawmakers from the 13 original American colonies - declared their independence from Britain.

Many people in cities and towns across America today will take part in patriotic rallies, parades and other events celebrating the independence anniversary. The July 4 holiday also is a time for relaxation, and millions of people will enjoy picnics, sporting events or other holiday activities.

Fireworks displays are a traditional feature of American Independence Day festivities.

Here in Washington, the celebrations begin in a few hours with a parade in the heart of the capital, featuring marching bands from all over the country. In the evening, there will be a nationally-televised concert on Capitol Hill, just outside the chambers where Congress meets. Capping it all will be one of the country's largest fireworks displays.