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Happy Fourth of July!

FESTIVE LIGHTS A crowd watches Fourth of July fireworks in Portland, Maine, on July 4, 2017. PORTLAND PRESS HERALD/GETTY IMAGES

What’s one of the most celebrated events in the United States? It’s the Fourth of July! The annual star-spangled holiday is also called Independence Day. It marks the day that the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, on July 4, 1776. The document announced that the 13 North American colonies intended to separate from Britain. Thomas Jefferson was its main writer. The document was signed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by 56 delegates.

At the time, America was part of the British Empire. Colonists felt they were being treated unfairly by Great Britain. They believed they were paying too much in taxes to Britain. They also thought they should have more say in how they were governed.

By June 1776, Americans were tired of being told what to do, so they decided to write the Declaration of Independence. On July 8, 1776, the first celebration took place in Philadelphia. The declaration was read aloud, city bells rang, and bands played.

Hundreds of years later, the national holiday remains important. It’s a day to honor United States history and heritage. Many communities hold parades featuring patriotic speeches. People hang American flags from their homes. Buildings are decorated in red, white, and blue. At night, booming fireworks displays can be seen at various parks and fairgrounds.

How can you show your U.S. pride this Fourth of July? You can start by putting on red, white, and blue clothes. You can also map out a spot in the park (or in front of the TV) to watch those dazzling fireworks!

This story was originally published on July 4, 2018. It was updated on July 1, 2022.