It's that time of the year again when the United States will deck up in shades of red, white and blue to celebrate the 4th of July, its Independence Day. That's not all, citizens are known to go all out to celebrate the nation's biggest holiday and often host barbecue parties and shoot fireworks.
The day is also associated with parades, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games and family get-togethers.
4th of July
The 4th of July is a federal holiday in the US commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 after the 13 colonies that made up America declared a war of independence against Britain in 1775.
The Congress, in fact, voted to declare independence on July 2, but the same was adopted two days later.
The British lived in America since 1587 and the Americans accused them of exploiting their resources like tea and tobacco. Such were the tensions between the Americans and the British that founding fathers, the head of the Sons of Liberty organisation, and a few other people are said to have boarded three ships in the Borton Harbour and threw 342 chests of tea into the waters.
Violence broke out after the move and the incident came to be known as The Boston Tea Party in 1773.
Observances over the years
The 4th of July may be a federal holiday now but the day was celebrated in a lot of different ways over the years. In 1777, 13 gunshots were fired in salute, once at morning and once in the evening in Bristol, Rhode Island.
The same year, Philadelphia hosted an official dinner for the Continental Congress, complete with toasts, 13-gun salutes, speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. Even ships at the port were decked with red, white, and blue.
In 1779, Independence Day fell on a Sunday and hence was celebrated on Monday, July 5.
In 1781, the Massachusetts General Court was the first state legislature to recognise July 4 as a state celebration.
In 1870, the US Congress decided that Independence Day would be an unpaid holiday for federal employees.
The 4th of July has been a paid holiday in the nation since 1938.
FBI foils Independence Day attack
While the country gears up for fireworks and festivities, the FBI, on Monday, July 2, said that they had arrested an Al-Qaeda supporter who was planning to attack soldiers of the US military and their families during a parade in Cleveland, Ohio.
The FBI said that Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts, who used the name Abdur Raheem Rafeeq, told an undercover agent that he wanted to load a vehicle with explosives and blow it up during a parade.
"His desire: to kill military personnel and their families," the Agence-France Presse quoted FBI special agent Steve Anthony as saying. The agents had been monitoring even his Facebook accounts for a while and said that his posts were "disturbing."