Lady Liberty, the iconic symbol of freedom and independence, reopened on the nation’s birthday as millions of Americans—including those touched by tragedy this year—came together on Thursday to celebrate 237 years of independence.
President Obama in his weekly address recognized generations of Americans who have worked together to develop the country. He also thanked the men and women service members who have fought for freedom at home and abroad.
“People in scattered corners of the world are living in peace today, free to write their own futures, because of you,” he said in the address. “We are grateful for your service and your sacrifice, especially those still serving in harm’s way and your families here at home.”
Across the country, regions marked by devastation healed together in celebrating the Fourth of July. In Prescott, Ariz.–which lost 19 of its 20 members of an elite force of firefighters in a wildfire just days before the Fourth of July–festivities were expected to last at least 10 hours and included an all-day carnival, live music, and a dance.
The city of Moore, Okla., planned to hold a 12-hour festival and fireworks show to celebrate patriotism, but did not host a carnival this year after the damage from tornadoes that ripped through the area in May.
The annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River Esplanade in Boston–the birthplace of the American Revolution–continued with tightened security despite the Boston Marathon bombing in April that killed three people and wounded more than 260.
As a result, security tightened for the holiday in cities around the country. Massachusetts State Police deployed additional security screening gates along with uniformed and undercover troopers along the Esplanade. Security procedures remained relatively the same at the nation’s capital, while New York supplemented the normally heavy component of police officers and screenings for visitors boarding ferries to Liberty Island.
The first family celebrated the birth of America, as well as Malia Obama’s 15th birthday. The president and first lady planned to host military heroes and their families in the evening for a Fourth of July barbecue, concert, and view of the fireworks from the South Lawn of the White House.
Happy Fourth, everybody. pic.twitter.com/KT3cHmIEgB
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 4, 2013