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Celebrate Independence Day with festivities and fun

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Independence Day is the day we celebrate the birthday of the United States of America. Whether you call the day Independence Day or the 4th of July, celebrate our freedom with food, fun and fireworks.

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According to History.com, Independence Day has been a federal holiday since 1941; however, July 4 has been an important day in our country since 1776, when the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence to free the United States of America from Great Britain's rule.

As we commemorate the 238th birthday of our country on July 4, here are some fun and festive ways to celebrate Independence Day with your family.

Fly the flag over your house for the 4th of July. Teach your kids American flag facts. The 13 stripes stand for the 13 original colonies. The 50 stars stand for the 50 states. Although the colors of the flag didn't originally have a meaning, red has come to stand for valor, bravery and sacrifice; white for purity, innocence and peace; and blue for vigilance, perseverance and justice.

Celebrate our country's birthday by remembering those whose sacrifices provide us with the freedom to enjoy the day. Display framed photos of your family's heroes, both past and present. Visit a war memorial or veterans cemetery.

Participate in a community celebration of Independence Day. Watch a parade and salute the flag and the military members who are marching. Let the kids decorate their bikes with red, white and blue and have a neighborhood parade.

Enjoy patriotic music and a fireworks display. Take a road trip to Washington, D.C. to enjoy fireworks on the National Mall. Many communities hold fireworks displays in parks or after baseball games on the 4th of July.

Gather with family and friends for a July 4th cookout. Hamburgers and hot dogs are good choices for toddlers and younger kids even if you also serve barbecued chicken or steak.

Kids enjoy simple appetizers like cheese and crackers or chips and dip. Baked beans and potato salad are great side dishes for a cookout but younger kids may not eat them. Crock pot macaroni and cheese is one of our family's favorite cookout side dishes.

Fruit salad is always a winner with kids. Make rainbow fruit skewers using raspberries, oranges cut into sections, pineapple cut into wedges, kiwis cut into slices, blueberries, and red grapes.

To assemble the fruit skewers, thread the fruit onto the skewers in the "Roy G Biv" order of the rainbow. First put a raspberry onto the skewer, then an orange slice, then a pineapple wedge, then a kiwi slice, then a couple of blueberries, and end with red grapes to represent both the indigo and violet of the rainbow.

Make simple red, white and blue fruit skewers with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and marshmallows. Let the kids assemble these treats for all to enjoy.

Make individual jello cups with blue and red jello layered with cool whip for an easy patriotic dessert. Kids also enjoy sugar cookies with red or blue icing and red, white, and blue decorative sprinkles.

We always make a Fourth of July flag cake. Bake your favorite cake in a 13x9 pan. Using toothpicks, mark off the upper left hand corner to be the blue field of the flag. Use toothpicks to mark off 13 stripes.

Use food color to make part of your frosting blue and red. Do the white stripes first, using a flexible plastic knife to spread the frosting and follow with the red stripes. Use a small flag or the photo in this article for an example. Spread blue frosting in the upper left corner. Once the blue frosting has set, use white frosting on a toothpick to apply the stars.

Celebrate America's 238 years of freedom with your family. Remember the reason for the celebration and honor those whose sacrifices made us free and keep us free. Happy Independence Day to all.

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