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.
Photo credit Sandi Gohn/USO

A bar-b-que spread.

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.
Photo credit DVIDS/Staff Sgt. Jason Colbert

Chocolate sits ready for use in s'mores.

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.

Photo credit Sandi Gohn/USO

A dog wears the 2019 USO T-Shirt.

10. Use the holiday as an excuse to dress up your dog.

We know some of you want to.

11. Fireworks!

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 in 2015. It has been updated in 2019 for style, brevity and accuracy.