Spending the 4th of July in DC instilled Independence Day with an air of festivity and an empowering sense of connection to the patriotism displayed in DC. Watching a parade that commemorates the actions of our forefathers traverse down Constitution Avenue mere feet from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights instilled the 4th of July with special meaning. The 4th of July parade provided my first experience with the larger than life balloons that I’d previously only seen on the TV screen during the Thanksgiving and Christmas parades. Following the parade I toured the American History Museum. Gazing upon the Star Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired our nation’s national anthem on the 4th of July evoked in me a certain special pride. Though the iconic moment of my 4th of July was watching the effervescent colored lights of the fireworks streaming against the night sky against the backdrop of the Washington Monument. Thousands of Americans stood at attention gazing upon the pyrotechnic light show up in the night sky, meant to resemble the very rockets that shone on the Star Spangled Banner during the War of 1812, the flag that showed that our nation was still there. Just as the 4th of July indicates each and everyday that our nation remains committed to the traditions of freedom and equality. This tradition of respect for the freedom and equality of individuals and groups empowered Colonists to rise up against the British in 1776, led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. In addition to celebrating our nation’s independence we must also remember that the 4th of July recognizes our nation’s achievements towards freedom and equality throughout history.