America's founding fathers set in motion the events which led the United States toward an era of democracy, ensuring each of its citizens many rights, among them the freedom to celebrate.
Today, the freedoms Americans enjoy have spread across the world to inspire others to stand for what they believe. Every year when Independence Day brings parades, fireworks and barbecues to all; it is important to remember that the nation's current successes are the result of every American's individual struggle, as well as that of the collective whole. So, as each firework streaks into the sky to echo a boom loud enough to be felt within the hearts of every human; never forget that celebration is a freedom everyone deserves.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, on this day in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation.
Four score and seven years later, President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, stating "... Our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that, 'All men are created equal.'
"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that the nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate-we can not consecrate - we cannot hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here.
"It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us-that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people - by the people - for the people, shall not perish from the Earth."
According to the Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970, in July of 1776 there were an estimated 2.5 million people living in the newly independent nation. Today, the U.S. and World Population Clock estimates that the nation's population is 316.2 million. And, the United States is no longer the only democratic nation, which appears to imply that today there exist many more free men and women worldwide than their have ever been before.
The U.S. Census Bureau also reports that in 2012, those free men and women celebrated their independence by spending $218.2 million on fireworks imported from China; representing the bulk of all U.S. fireworks imported, which was $227.3 million. U.S. exports of fireworks, by comparison, came to just $11.7 million in 2012, with Israel purchasing $2.5 million worth - more than any other country.
From the U.S. Census Bureau: "As we celebrate this Independence Day, we reflect on how our Founding Fathers enshrined the importance of statistics in our Constitution as a vital tool for measuring our people, places and economy. Since 1790, the U.S. Census has been much more than a simple head count; it has charted the growth and composition of our nation. The questions have evolved over time to address our changing needs. Today, the 10-year census, the economic census and the American Community Survey give Congress and community leaders the information they need to make informed decisions that shape our democracy. These statistics are how we know how our country is doing."