By Eric Brandner
American troops have served for more than two centuries to keep our nation free. And while we should always honor their sacrifices, it’s also important to take time to enjoy the freedoms they provide.
Here are 13 ways you can do just that this July Fourth weekend:
1. Eat a hot dog and watch the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest.
2. Ring a bell.
Then-resident John F. Kennedy introduced this Fourth of July concept just months before his assassination in 1963.
3. Go lawnmower racing in Oregon.
4. Read a biography about a founding father.
Or read this much shorter piece about a founding father-inspired hip-hop musical.
5. Cheer on your favorite at the lobster races in Bar Harbor, Maine.
6. Sign up to volunteer at the USO and have fun while you’re giving back.
7. Make s'mores.
Fun fact: The first known s'mores recipe appeared in a 1927 Girl Scout publication.
8. Watch a baseball game.
9. Read the Declaration of Independence.
Bonus fact: Button Gwinnett, who signed the Declaration, has one of the most sought-after and expensive autographs in the modern world. Only 51 documents with his signature are known to exist.
10. Use the holiday as an excuse to dress up your dog.
We know some of you want to.
OK, maybe they’re not “uniquely American,” but we’re making an exception today.
12. Visit a national park.
Seriously. They’re amazing.
13. Sing the national anthem.
-This story was originally published on USO.org in 2015. It has been updated in 2019 for style, brevity and accuracy.
More from the USO
Sep 19, 2019
What is the Black and White Flag Flown on POW/MIA Recognition Day?
The POW/MIA flag, a solemn black-and-white banner, stands as a tribute to the troops who fought in Vietnam and remain missing or unaccounted for. Typically, it is flown POW/MIA Recognition Day on the third Friday in September, but in some locations, it is displayed all year round.
Sep 18, 2019
Second-Longest Held POW in American History Details How He Was Captured
When Everett Alvarez, a young naval aviator, told his crewmates he'd see them "later" when he ejected over North Vietnam on August 5, 1964, he didn't think that moment would lead to 8 years of captivity, making him the second-longest held POW in U.S. history.