America celebrated its 229th birthday Monday with concerts, parades, patriotic music, picnics and fireworks across the country.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans and foreign tourists converged on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the Fourth of July, America's Independence Day. 

Celebrations in U.S. capital began Monday morning with a parade, which included  marching bands from across the country.

A spectacular fireworks display, followed a concert at the U.S. Capitol building, featuring singers like the Beach Boys and Gloria Estefan.

Thousands of viewers watched the concert on a large television screen hanging on a crane outside the Capitol Hill Building.

"There's no place like the National Mall to celebrate our nation's birthday," says Amy from Maryland. "I came to watch the concert. I love the Beach Boys." 

Security was tight. Many streets around the Mall were closed for traffic and visitors were  screened by metal detectors.  The city's mass transit Metro system was  on a special schedule to accommodate the huge crowds.

The Fourth of July is a day of picnics and patriotic parades and an evening of concerts and fireworks. Many homes in the cities and suburbs fly the American flag to mark the day the United States was born as a independent republic in 1776.

"The Fourth (of July) isn't only about our important history and being free from British rule, it's also about having fun and celebrating with family and friends," says Sahar, an Egyptian-American who came to Washington from Virginia to watch the fireworks display with her kids.

In many cities and towns across the United States, Americans participated in picnics and parades, listened to concerts and watched fireworks displays. 
Some people traveled hundreds of miles to watch the national fireworks display in Washington, D.C., the largest in the nation.

"My family came all the way from Ohio last night," says Chuck. "We had a nice barbeque this morning. We watched a concert. The weather is great, a good day for celebrations."

In a symbolic ceremony, many people, including Saudis, Egyptians, Lebanese, Indians and Vietnamese, took the oath of allegiance today to become new citizens of the United States. "There's no better day to become a U.S. citizen than today," says Rashma, an Indian-born American from Virginia.