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Fourth of July 2021: Discover U.S. history and celebrate!

By |Thursday July 1, 2021

Celebrating Independence Day in 2021 will be different from 2020, as the U.S. starts to get back to normal now that more people have the COVID-19 vaccine. But, if your community isn’t hosting any public events, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the national holiday at home.

Did you know that the U.S. Congress didn’t formally recognize Independence Day as a federal holiday until 1870? That was nearly 100 years after the American Revolution began on July 4, 1776.

Fun ways to celebrate Independence Day.

Get inspired to celebrate Independence Day with these ideas.

  • Call friends and family expats abroad. Did you know that there are an estimated nine million Americans living outside the United States including one million in Canada and about one million in Mexico If you know Americans in Canada and Mexico, use the Ooma Premier Plan it includes unlimited calling to Canada and Mexico.  
  • Decorate your home to celebrate Independence Day. Pretty much anything with red, white and blue stars and stripes makes a great 4th of July decoration. That’s because stars and stripes have adorned every American flag since the first was created in 1777 by the Continental Congress. Whether or not that one was stitched by Betsy Ross is up for debate. Today’s flag  honors both past and present American history with 13 stripes for the original 13 colonies and 50 stars for the 50 states. In addition to the American flag, you can also decorate your home with red, white, and blue bunting.
  • Listen to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” No, the Founding Fathers didn’t sing the “The Star-Spangled Banner” after signing the Declaration of Independence because it was originally a poem written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key. While the song gained popularity over the following years, Congress only recognized the anthem in law in 1931. Expand your horizons this Independence Day by listening to a few different renditions. For example, The Star-Spangled Banners has been performed by Carrie Underwood (Super Bowl XLIV, 2010), Beyoncé (Super Bowl XXXVIII, 2004), Lady Gaga (Super Bowl L, 2015), and Whitney Houston (Super Bowl XXV, 1991). In addition, look up some of America’s “alternative” national anthems like America (My Country, Tis of Thee) from 1831 or America the Beautiful from 1895. For something a little more modern, you might also look up God Bless America (written in 1918) or This Land is Your Land (written in 1940). 
  • Read a history book. Learn about the events of July 4, 1776, at your local library Consider reading “Washington: A Life” by Ron Chernow, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011. Alternatively, you might look at the history of Independence Day from the perspective of Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). You can learn about his life by reading his autobiography for free online or Walter Issacson’s biography “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life.” 
  • Watch a historical documentary (or musical!). For a different perspective on Independence Day, look at historical documentaries, movies and TV shows. For example, HBO produced a miniseries on John Adams, who took part in the American Revolution and became the second president (1797-1801). If you’re looking for something with a contemporary spin, watch the “Hamilton” musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda which is available on Disney+. The musical focuses on Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) who served in the War of Independence and became the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.
  • Enjoy a BBQ. In many parts of the country, holding a BBQ is a way to celebrate Independence Day. To make the event, you might also put up American flags around your home. More than 50 percent of Americans planned to participate in a BBQ or cookout in 2020. If you’re looking for something new, find a BBQ recipe from another state. For example, you might look into Kansas City barbecue sauce or Magic Mustard South Carolina barbecue sauce. If you prefer to celebrate with a glass of Kentucky bourbon, you can also make a barbecue sauce recipe from that bourbon.
  • Look for fireworks. Viewing fireworks displays is a long-standing Independence Day tradition. The day was first celebrated with fireworks in 1777 in Philadelphia. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, the majority of U.S. states allow “consumer fireworks” for the Fourth of July. In 2020, the U.S. consumed 404 million pounds of fireworks, the largest amount of fireworks consumption since 2000. The 2020 consumption of fireworks was also much higher than 2019. If you plan to celebrate Independence Day at home with fireworks in 2021, plan to buy fireworks early because they might sell out. If your community does not have fireworks displays due to COVID, see if you can look up a display on TV or online such as the PBS event “A Capitol Fourth” which will be broadcast on July 4, 2021.


Make time to call friends and family on Independence Day.

You might have friends and family in other states, cities, and perhaps even a few living outside the U.S. Call a friend and share some Fourth of July cheer. For example, you might discuss historical facts with a fellow history buff or talk about a new barbecue sauce recipe with a foodie friend. If you have friends living outside of the U.S., Ooma can be a good option because of their low per-minute international rates. With Ooma Premier service at $9.99 per month, you can even call people you know in Mexico and Canada from the U.S. for free.


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