Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fourth of July

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Richard Henry Lee
During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia declaring the United States independent from Great Britain. After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4.


In a remarkable coincidence, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as Presidents of the United States, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, but another Founding Father who became a President, James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831, thus becoming the third president in a row who died on this memorable day. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872, and, so far, is the only President to have been born on Independence Day.


Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States.

A salute of one gun for each state in the United States, called a “salute to the union,” is fired on Independence Day at noon by any capable military base.


2009, New York City
In 2009, New York City had the largest fireworks display in the country, with over 22 tons of pyrotechnics exploded. Other major displays are in Chicago on Lake Michigan; in San Diego over Mission Bay; in Boston on the Charles River; in St. Louis on the Mississippi River; in San Francisco over the San Francisco Bay; and on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.. During the annual Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival, Detroit, Michigan hosts one of the world's largest fireworks displays, over the Detroit River, to celebrate Independence Day in conjunction with Windsor, Ontario's celebration of Canada Day.





The 4th of July celebrations in Washington, DC are among the most attended events of the year. The National Mall, with Washington DC’s monuments and the U. S. Capitol in the background, forms a beautiful and patriotic backdrop to America's Independence Day celebrations. This is an all-day event in the nation's capital, beginning with a parade along Constitution Avenue and ending with a spectacular display of fireworks over the Washington Monument.

The best way to get to the National Mall is to take the Metro. Stations nearby include Smithsonian, Metro Center, Gallery Place-Chinatown, Judiciary Square, Federal Triangle and L'Enfant Plaza. Public access to the National Mall begins at 10:00 a.m., with all visitors required to enter via a security checkpoint. Fireworks Time: At dark, usually around 9:15 p.m. Rain Date: July 5th
Launch Location: The fireworks are launched from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and light up the sky over the Washington Monument.



Smithsonian Folklife Festival
The annual event includes daily and evening music and dance performances, crafts and cooking demonstrations, storytelling and discussions of cultural issues. The themes of the 2012 program will be: Campus and Community, Citified: Arts and Creativity East of the Anacostia River and Creativity and Crisis: Unfolding The AIDS Memorial Quilt. The hours on the 4th of July are 11 a.m to 5 p.m.


White House Visitor Center Family EventsBetween 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., stop at the White House Visitor Center and enjoy games, crafts and other activities celebrating America's Birthday. National Park Service rangers and volunteers will give you the opportunity to sample the sights, sounds, activities and personages that helped finalize the Declaration of Independence and create the United States of America on July 4, 1776. 



Fireworks

The earliest documentation of fireworks dates back to 7th century China, where they were invented. The fireworks were used to accompany many festivities. It is a part of the culture of China and had its origin there, eventually it spread to other cultures and societies. Important events and festivities such as the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) and the Mid-Autumn Festival were and still are times when fireworks are guaranteed sights. China is the largest manufacturer and exporter of fireworks in the world.


An estimated $190.7 million worth of fireworks was imported from China in 2010, which represented the majority of all U.S. fireworks. On the other hand, fireworks exports from U.S. came to just $37 million in 2010, with Japan being the largest consumer.


Fireworks are generally classified as to where they perform, either as a ground or aerial firework. In the latter case they may provide their own propulsion (skyrocket) or be shot into the air by a mortar (aerial shell). The most common feature of fireworks is a paper or pasteboard tube or casing filled with the combustible material, often pyrotechnic stars. A number of these tubes or cases are often combined so as to make, when kindled, a great variety of sparkling shapes, often variously colored. The skyrocket is a common form of firework, although the first skyrockets were used in war. Such rocket technology has also been used for the delivery of mail by rocket and is used as propulsion for most model rockets. The aerial shell is the backbone of today's commercial aerial display. A smaller version for consumer use is known as the festival ball in the United States. Ground fireworks, although less popular than aerial ones, create a stunning exhibition. These types of fireworks can produce various shapes, such as simple rotating circles, stars and 3D globes.









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