The Fourth of July has been recognized as Independence Day in the United States ever since the country’s Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. To mark the occasion, Americans celebrate with parades, fireworks, concerts and other festive activities.
Independence Day is a time for Americans to celebrate the history of the United States. No parade would be complete without a fife-and-drum band in period costume.
Modern culture has a place as well. Here, members of a marching band’s dance team practice before the start of a parade in Washington.
People dressed as “Uncle Sam,” a folklore figure who personifies the United States, are a common sight at July 4 celebrations. The first illustration of this figure appeared around 1850, but the term “Uncle Sam” dates back to the War of 1812.
The long Independence Day weekend — and the rest of the summer — attracts sunbathers to U.S. beaches, like Orange Beach, Alabama, on the Gulf of Mexico.
Holding public commemorations of Independence Day has been a White House tradition since 1801. President Obama continues the tradition by inviting members of the U.S. military and their families for a day of fun, food and music.
Fourth of July festivities almost always culminate with a fireworks display. People across the country, like these on the National Mall in Washington, wait patiently for the sun to set and the show to begin.
Even the first family can’t resist the grande finale! President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia, center, watch the Fourth of July fireworks from the roof of the White House.