As the granddaughter of Lebanese and Italian immigrants who came to this country to start a new life, the Fourth of July signifies the birthday of a nation that opened its arms to my family, and has given us the opportunity to flourish ever since. For families like mine, this is a holiday of reflection and appreciation. But it's also a day of great celebration for all people across the land. America sure knows how to throw a party -- and what signifies the Fourth better than fireworks?
When I was a child, my family pulled out all the stops on the Fourth, hosting parties complete with our own mini-fireworks display and sparklers for all of the children. These days, my husband and I spend the day with friends on a boat in New York City harbor, tooling around the Hudson River at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. Macy's fireworks spectacular paints the sky with glorious pyrotechnics and the sight is just breathtaking. The bright lights exploding over the Lady Liberty gives me goosebumps every time.
But New York City isn't the only place that holds an impressive Independence Day blowout. Cities and towns across the country mark the Fourth with elaborate fireworks displays of their own, along with parades of pageantry and thrilling live entertainment. Boston holds a weeklong patriotic celebration called Harborfest that includes its famed "Chowderfest" and an appearance by the tall ships, all set to the music of the Boston Pops; Nashville hosts a two-day festival filled with live music on the banks of the Cumberland -- from down-home country to the annual "Let Freedom Ring!" songfest; in Washington D.C., the sky over the National Mall lights up with colorful explosions; and San Diego struts its American pride with fireworks shot from barges on the bay. I wish I could attend them all!
But seeing is the next best thing to being there. So take a look at some of the biggest and best Independence Day celebrations across the country -- and I invite you to add your own photos to our star-spangled slideshow. I can't wait to see them!