Thursday July 4, 2013

The United States of America declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776, but the Fourth of July did not become a federal holiday until 1941. The Fourth of July is a time for Americans to reflect on what it means to be a free citizen. Family and friends celebrate with picnics, cookouts, campfires and fireworks.

The Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade dates back to 1824, when the procession consisted of Revolutionary War survivors, patriots, politicians, and horse-drawn carriages. Various groups in the community continued to host the parade until the project was abandoned in 1976.

Pittsfield did not have a parade again until 1978 when a group of volunteers raised $2,000 for the City of Pittsfield. In a letter to his daughter, Benjamin Franklin confesses that he wished the symbol of America was a turkey, not the bald eagle. " Š the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original Native of America," he wrote. "He is besides, though a little vain and silly, a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on."

According to the United States Census Bureau, there were an estimated 2.5 million people living in America in 1776. Today, there are an estimated 316.2 million people living in America, many of whom gather to watch fireworks.

Last year, the U.S. imported $227.3 million worth of fireworks, 96 percent of which came from China.