Celebrating the 4th of July in the United States

After over six years of living in Europe, we’ll be celebrating our first Independence Day in the United States since 2007, when we were living in Tampa, Florida. We’ve now been residing in historic Boston for only 6 weeks. Given this is the city that began America’s independence movement from the United Kingdom, we think it’s a fitting place to get reacquainted with this quintessentially American holiday. So what’s celebrating the 4th of July in the United States all about?

American flags at the Washington Monument

Oldest 4th of July Parade

A friend of ours in Rhode Island, home of the United States’ oldest continuous 4th of July parade in Bristol recently told me that I’ve never actually properly celebrated Independence Day, given that I grew up in Orlando, Florida and have subsequently spent so many years living outside the country. For Floridians, drunkenly letting off random fireworks or watching fireworks light the sky on the beach, after grilling hamburgers and drinking beer all day with lots of American flags and friends typically constitutes a good 4th of July celebration.

4th of July Traditions

So even within the USA there are varying opinions on how you should celebrate Independence Day. But for Floridians, we simply don’t have a historic parade that dates back to 1785. And some Americans that traditionally get highly inebriated every July 4th might. So they may even forget what they learned in their American government classes when they were younger. The day celebrates the nation’s adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776.

The US Capital Building in Washington, DC
The US Capital Building in Washington, DC

Ironically, Several of the USA’s First Presidents Died on 4th of July

John Adams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence who went on to be the USA’s 2nd president, wrote to his wife Abigail in 1776 and referring to Independence Day said “it ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

John Adams nailed it as all of this rings true nearly 250 years later. Incredibly, both he and Thomas Jefferson, the only other American president who was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence, died the very same day on July, 4th, 1826. That’s the 50th anniversary of the signing of the nation’s founding document!

Also incredible is that James Monroe, the country’s 4th president and adviser in the founding, died on July 4th, 1831. Calvin Coolidge is the only American president who was born on the 4th of July in 1872, and served as America’s 30th president from 1923-1929.

The Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC is an inspiring place. While Thomas Jefferson wrote against slavery, he also owned many himself.
The Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. While Thomas Jefferson specifically wrote against slavery in his draft of the Declaration of Independence, Congress removed that part. And Jefferson himself hypocritically owned slaves.

Washington, DC

As we were recently in Washington, DC just last week, we feel this is a fitting post to share some photos of the USA’s beautiful capital. Washington, DC resembles what ancient Athens looked like during its golden age 2,450 years ago. We ended up living in the capital for 3 and 1/2 years. Here are 25 Washington, DC travel tips to avoid missing out!

What does Independence Day mean to you and how do you celebrate?…And Happy Birthday, America!

Jefferson Memorial- excerpt from Declaration of Independence
The famous words of Jefferson that appear in the Declaration of Independence are condensed from the document at his memorial. The deeper meaning of the Declaration of Independence is constantly debated among Americans.

4th of July in Boston

For those that will be in Boston for July 4th, it’s one of the best shows in the country with the world famous Boston Pops orchestra performing and always a big time guest band. For 2014 it was ‘The Beach Boys’, unfortunately we totally missed out. We look forward to a future show though!


  • Alex&Bell

    Alex and Bell originally met while solo traveling after finishing university in 2002, in Brugge, Belgium. Alex grew up in the USA and Bell hails from Australia. During our nearly 20 year marriage we've lived around the world, including spending six years living in the Netherlands and Ireland. We have traveled to nearly 70 countries and enjoy giving readers authentic and quality travel tips. Alex is an award winning travel journalist and travel planner, who also freelances for other outlets. Bell is an award winning PhD scientist who currently works for a non-profit lung cancer advocacy research organization called Lungevity. Happy travels and if you have any questions leave a comment or drop an email!

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2 thoughts on “Celebrating the 4th of July in the United States

  1. Happy Independence Day and I hope you enjoy the celebrations in your new home city of Boston. Look forward to the photos

    1. Thank you very much! As long as it doesn’t rain it will indeed be a festive day in Boston and we look forward to capturing it.

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