Celebrating Independence Day


I got back into DC the afternoon of the 4th and headed down to the National Mall for the concert and fireworks. They did not disappoint.


There were at least a couple of hundred thousand people down in the National Mall. It was full up from the Capitol to the WWII Memorial, with a gap for the fireworks, and then even more packed in up to the Lincoln Memorial. You can see at the top of the picture how packed in it is at the Lincoln end. For most of the mall it was crowded but not jam packed, which made it nice.


The National Symphony Orchestra played down at the Capitol, while next to the Washington Monument, we have the US Army Concert Band. They played some great songs, but also had some reminders of what it is all about, including this famous extract from a letter by John Adams to his wife Abigail o n the 3rd of July 1776:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

And so it has been for 233 years. The only thing Adams got wrong was the date. 2 July is when it was approved in a closed session and 4 July when the 2nd Continental Congress publicly proclaimed it.


It was great to be able to watch the festivities from the base of the Washington Monument.


Got many great photos, despite it being just a Blackberry, as we were so close to the action.


This shot of the crowd gives some idea of how much the place lit up under the fireworks. There was no public lighting.


The fireworks started around 9.15 pm and lasted around half an hour I would say.


The glare as they explode is quite phenomenal.


And the finale. The sky was literally lit up over the entire mall.

Afterwards, you had semi-organised chaos. 250,000 walking out blocked every street for a km or so in every direction. You just could not fit people on the footpaths, so traffic came to a standstill. I eventually decided that trying to grab a taxi would take longer than walking, so got home around 11.30 pm after a five mile or so stroll.

It was great celebrating the day with at least 250,000 other people. And everyone was happy and friendly – a true celebration. It made me regret we do not have a national day where we celebrate all things good about New Zealand.

I deliberately extended my stay in the US, so I could be here for the 4th of July, and am very glad I did – well worth staying on for.

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