On July 4, 1776, at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, 56 men signed a document that many have regarded with mixed feelings.
For those 56 men, at that day and time, the action was thought to be synonymous to signing their own death warrants. Today, 235 years later, many regard the signatures to be like those found at the bottom of a birthday card, telling one of the happy occasion of a most joyous celebration -- Happy Birthday, America!
For people all over the United States and here in Utah, celebrating the day that America declared its independence from Great Britain can mean anything from a barbecue, a parade and fireworks, or chilling with family.
We asked some Top of Utah teens to tell us what their ideal Fourth of July celebration would include, if they could go anywhere or do anything. For some of them, family, fun and fireworks are exactly what Independence Day is all about.
Burgers or dogs?
Staying home is the perfect July 4 celebration for Chantel Carter, a recent graduate of Roy High School.
"I would have all my family around for a barbecue and outdoor games," Carter said.
Angela Lewis of Bear River High agrees.
"Why not spend a fantastic holiday with fantastic people?" the soon-to-be junior says.
Morgan Hill, a junior at Bonneville High, also enjoys a home-style celebration: "It's an annual party and what I have known the Fourth to be for a long time. Barbecue and fireworks is an American thing!"
Having fun is on the ballot for everyone, especially when it comes to fireworks. In 2009, more than 22 tons of fiery fun were launched into the air over New York City's East Village in celebration of Independence Day.
All across the nation, and in Utah, from Brigham City to Cedar City, celebrations with fireworks are a very common theme.
Alysia Pugmire, a recent graduate of Fremont High, says she'd want to spend her Fourth of July in "The Valley" -- Ogden Valley -- enjoying fireworks, dancing, fun booths and football games.
"I would go to Disneyland to watch the Fourth of July fireworks," says Sabrina Badali, a freshman at Electronic High School. "Disneyland is my favorite place ever and I love their fireworks!"
An island holiday
The Fourth of July weekend -- June 30-July 4 -- is acclaimed as one of the busiest travel weekends in the year, often attributed to family get-togethers, celebrations that cross state lines, and time-tested traditions.
More than 39 million people are expected to drive 50 miles or more, and 3 million are forecasted to jump on an airplane for their Independence Day fun.
Some Top of Utah Teens would love to join the crowds, spreading out for vacations everywhere from Indiana to Hawaii.
"I would go to Hawaii with my whole family and watch fireworks from a boat in the ocean," says Mary Cook, a junior at Northridge High. "I would like it because I would be with my whole family and do something most people don't normally do."
Christina Fife, a soon-to-be junior at Box Elder High, wants to go to Arizona and enjoy a barbecue and the company of family there.
"I would want to go to my uncle's house in Indiana," said Alexa Pustek, a recent graduate of Roy High. "They have a party every year and invite my whole family. It's always fun because me and my cousins play basketball and (they) take me on their motorcycles. And we shoot off HUGE fireworks!"
Janilise Smith would like to visit patriotic sites.
"My unrealistic dream Fourth of July would be spent either in Washington D.C. or Independence Hall where it all happened," the junior at Roy High this fall says. "My realistic dream Fourth of July is pretty cliche. I'd like just a typical day with my family and friends at the parade, carnival and fireworks, eating good food. Maybe throw some rock climbing and volleyball in there."
However, some teens say they wouldn't want to travel too far away on this unique American holiday.
"I would not want to go out of country," Cook says, "because they don't celebrate the Fourth of July."
Max Christensen, a senior at Bear River, has a differing opinion" "I would love to go to England, you know, just for the heck of it. It would be funny. Just walk around the streets and chuckle to myself."
Abby Payne will be a senior this fall at Bear River High School. When she's not singing, writing or talking a million miles an hour, you can always find her reading. E-mail her at email@example.com.