July 4th is a day all Americans celebrate together! We come together around speeches, flags, parades, concerts, picnics, even hot dogs… and, of course, fireworks. Independence Day, as Congress designated it in 1870, celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence years earlier on July 4, 1776 when its framers, the Continental Congress and its original authors, including Thomas Jefferson, declared the formation of a new country—the United States of America.
July 4th is such an essential celebration of America—of our commitment to freedom. But it’s important to remember that not all persons were indeed free in 1776.
This June 19th, as a country, Americans together officially celebrated Juneteenth—that day in June 1865 when, following the Civil War, we as a nation took another step, embracing again the important words which embody the best idea of America: “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.”
In celebrating today, perhaps we might reflect back to the first celebration held in Philadelphia’s Independence Square on July 8, 1776. On that day, a public reading of the Declaration was reportedly accompanied by ringing bells, bonfires, and fireworks. How will you celebrate this year? Here are a few ideas to get you started…
- Make a public (or just out loud) reading of the Declaration of Independence with friends/family. [Here’s a full size reproduction from the National Archives.]
- Have a picnic! Even if you can’t go outside, why not spread out a blanket on the floor and have an inside picnic?
- Bake a yummy treat decorated with patriotic symbols. Here are some ideas: Flag Cake, Flag Pie, Easy Flag Snack. Perhaps add a trick/relighting candle to give a feeling of fireworks.
- Organize a group sing-along of patriotic songs.