13 Uniquely American Things to Do on July Fourth Weekend

American troops have served for more than two centuries to keep our nation free. And while we should always honor their sacrifices, it’s also important to take time to enjoy the freedoms they provide. Here are 13 ways you can do just that this July Fourth weekend.

1. Eat a hot dog (and watch the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest).

2. Ring a bell. Then-President John F. Kennedy introduced this Fourth of July concept just months before his assassination in 1963.

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3. Go lawnmower racing in Oregon.

4. Read a biography about a founding father. (Or read this much shorter piece about a founding father-inspired hip-hop musical.)

5. Cheer on your favorite at the lobster races in Bar Harbor, Maine.

6. Sign up to volunteer at the USO and have fun while you’re giving back.

S'mores!

7. Make s’mores. (Fun fact: The first known s’mores recipe appeared in a 1927 Girl Scout publication.)

8. Attend the Ocean Beach Marshmallow War in San Diego. (But behave.)

9. Watch a baseball game.

10. Read the Declaration of Independence. (Bonus fact: Button Gwinnett, who signed the Declaration, has one of the most sought-after and expensive autographs in the modern world. Only 51 documents with his signature are known to exist.)

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11. Use the holiday as an excuse to dress up your dog. (We know some of you want to.)

12. Fireworks! (OK, maybe they’re not “uniquely American,” but we’re making an exception today.)

13. Visit a national park. (Seriously. They’re amazing.)

Happy 4th of July!

Troops enjoy a BBQ at the grand re-opening of the Pat Tillman Memorial USO Center in Bagram, Afghanistan on July 8, 2009. (USO Photo by Dave Gatley)

Wherever you are this Independence Day, know that our USO Family wishes you a happy and healthy holiday!  The USO lifts the spirits of troops and their families millions of times a year at thousands of places worldwide, and we want to extend a special THANK YOU to all of those serving and all who have served.

In celebration, we’ve pulled together some of our favorite summertime and patriotic photos from the past seven decades – we hope you enjoy!

And as you gather around the grill or pull out the lawn chairs for fireworks, take a moment to remember the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform…Until Every One Comes Home.

A serviceman and USO volunteer enjoy the perfect snack on a hot day! (USO archives, date unknown)

A military spouse and her child enjoy ice cream at a USO event in the 1950s. (USO archives)

"I want to be just like you when I grow up." (USO archives)

Grilling out at a USO Center in China Beach. (USO archives)

The Patriotic Six is Back!

It’s that special time of year again when we at the USO salute our men and women in uniform – and all who have served – by celebrating the six weeks (or thereabouts) between Memorial Day and July 4th.  We call it “The Patriotic Six” and this year we have so many ways that YOU can show your support!

  • Check out the website – it’s your one-stop shop for all things Patriotic Six.
  • Grab the widget – get a new patriotic fact every day and share it on all of your social networking sites; there’s even an iPhone App!
  • Add the Twibbon to your Twitter avatar – create a free account and you can position the Patriotic Six logo wherever you like
  • Change your desktop wallpaper – add one of our customized camo backgrounds for work or home computers
  • Fan us on Facebook – we’re looking to reach “60 in 6” – 60,000 fans in six weeks, that is!  It’s a big goal, but we know we can reach it and show the world how much support the USO has on Facebook!

Finally, we want to let you know that each week during the Patriotic Six we have a fantastic giveaway!  Today we have the DVD of Dear John – just released today – along with USO-branded goodies for one lucky blog reader.  [Please note: this contest has already ended, but we’ll have another great one next week!]

To enter the contest, just leave a comment on today’s blog letting us know how YOU plan to celebrate during the Patriotic Six.  One comment will be selected at random to receive the gift pack.  Sorry, but USO employees and their families are not eligible.

We have many more exiting things in store for your during the next six weeks.  Be sure to bookmark the blog or add it to your RSS feed for all the latest Patriotic Six happenings.

UPDATE: We’ve added the trailer!  There’s still time to comment; we’ll draw the winner on Thursday at Noon EST.
Channing Tatum stars in ‘Dear John,’ a romantic drama about a soldier who falls in love with a conservative college student. Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks.

more about “dear john“, posted with vodpod