On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence, which declared the United States a free and independent nation. Some 244 years later, Americans continue to celebrate our country’s freedom on July 4 with BBQs, parades, and fireworks.
Of course, this year we’ll be celebrating our freedom safely while wearing masks and compulsively washing our hands given the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are 10 ways to celebrate your love of our country and reflect on the sacrifices of military service members this July 4:
1. Display an American flag
This is one of the easiest ways to showcase your American pride. Make sure you follow the rules of etiquette for respectfully handling and displaying the American flag.
2. Support armed forces and veterans
Remember the sacrifices made by the men and women in the U.S. military and support organizations that help them when they return home. Look online for donation and volunteer opportunities in your area. Consider sending notes, care packages, and supplies to troops via organizations like Operation Gratitude and Operation Shoebox.
3. Watch July 4 fireworks
In 1776, John Adams declared that the Declaration of Independence should be celebrated with “pomp and parade, with shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.” Sounds good to us! This year, you may want to choose a virtual July 4th event or attend fireworks (if your town is hosting them) with a smaller group of close family or friends to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
4. Read Frederic Douglass’ July 5th Speech
In 1852, when the country was locked in debate over the question of slavery, the prominent activist, author, and public speaker Frederick Douglass was asked to speak at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He told his audience, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” Take time to read Douglass’ now-famous speech here for an opportunity to view this holiday through the lens of a trailblazing Black American.
5. Host a barbecue
Celebrating with friends and family is an Independence Day tradition. Hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, and potato salad are just a few of the classic treats. This year, keep your gathering small and make sure to have lots of hand sanitizer and masks available!
6. Visit a national park
This land is your land, this land is my land. Celebrate our beautiful country by visiting one of the United States’ 58 National Parks for a hike, walk, picnic, or scenic drive. Check the National Park Service website for any restrictions related to COVID-19. Most have reopened, but many are limiting the number of visitors at any given time for your safety.
7. Visit a fort or monument
Visit your local historical society’s website for ideas on hidden gems around you. Bring history to life by visiting sites of historic significance and honoring those who came before us, and finally read the plaques on those old buildings or statues you pass around town every day! This is a safe and fun way to celebrate America’s great history.
8. Learn about your family history
When we learn our own family’s stories, we are also learning about the country we live in. Research your family heritage, or ask an older family member to share stories. Discovering your roots is part of enjoying where you are today. Teach grandpa how to use Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype and listen to tales of the good old days. You might just learn something!
9. Sing the Star-Spangled Banner
If you secretly stumble over any of the verses, it’s time to memorize the complete national anthem word for word. For extra credit, learn all the words to My Country ‘Tis of Thee. Then sing for all who will listen!
10. Learn about the U.S. Constitution
Learn a bit more about how our nation established a government while protecting the rights of the people, and then share your new patriotic knowledge with friends and family. Try this resource for learning more.
Celebrate America all year long
We hope you have a wonderful Independence Day. If you don’t get to do everything you want to do on this list, you’ll simply have to continue your celebration of America throughout the rest of the year. Here’s to freedom!