Independence Day

Fireworks are seen from the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial area, in Arlington, Va. on July 4, 2013.
Fireworks are seen from the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial area, in Arlington, Va. on July 4, 2013.

The United States celebrates the formation of the world’s oldest democracy each year on the fourth of July. On this day in 1776 the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, which asserted America’s independence by declaring some of the basic rights of man and listing grievances against the British Empire.

America’s birthday is celebrated by traditional activities such as parades, concerts, picnics, and fireworks displays.

The U.S. Embassy in Prague host the traditional Independence Day reception at the Ambassador’s residence in Prague. Among the distinguished guests are Czech politicians, academics and foreign diplomats.

During communism, Czech dissidents were also among those who were invited, as former Czech President Václav Havel recalled in an interview for the U.S. Embassy in January 2009.

A White House Fourth

Fourth of July festivities at the White House, although bigger in scale than most Independence Day parties, feature the same sort of hospitality found at more modest celebrations, according to Deesha Dyer, White House deputy social secretary.

This year, the Obamas will host a barbecue for military families on the South Lawn, as they’ve done every year. “There are games for kids — it’s always fun to watch kids play with the [hula] hoops — musical performances and, of course, the celebratory fireworks over the Washington Monument,” said Dyer.

What’s on the menu? Summer foods, including grilled chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers, fruit, potato salad and a crowd favorite, corn on the cob.

Excerpt from the Declaration of Independence

“. . . We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. . . .”

You can read a transription of the complete text of the Declaration on Archives.gov.