The 4th of July, the day the United States became a country as they embraced the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

The thirteen colonies of that day would grow into 50 states, enduring several brutal wars — the Civil War, WWI and WWII, to name the largest of them, before it really surfaced on the world stage as a superpower. Countless lives were lost in securing all of the things we have today in these wars, and many others. The United States is not a perfect place, and while its freedom ought to be enjoyed, that same freedom must be upheld every single day by its citizens. Traditional American values can be applied to the modern world — things like perseverance, independent thought, chasing the life of your dreams regardless of religion or class, and the constant desire to improve both yourself and the nation in which you live.

Holidays are just days in the year — they only have value because we endow it upon them. Had the Declaration of Independence been adopted on some other day, the 4th of July would roll around as unremarkable as the days that preceded it. But these days are more than simple anniversaries of an event — they are a reminder of why such events are so significant. Independence Day in particular is a reminder of the men and women that built this country, and the values they founded it upon.

Sure, these are things Americans ought to remember all the time. But, like myself, they are human and it’s easy to forget. Holidays like the 4th of July are good reminders of those things.

And those holidays have been celebrated in one way or another for a very long time. The first 4th of July celebration was in 1785, known as the Bristol Fourth of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island. The holiday wasn’t even officially recognized across the nation until 1870, and in 1938 it finally became a paid federal holiday.

Everyone celebrates it differently, be it at a concert, at home with their families, at a monument or memorial, or somewhere else entirely. Many are abroad, at war or in the service of some other cause. Even in the U.S., some doctors, firefighters, nurses, police officers and other necessary ’round the clock duties are working harder than ever right now.

Here are some pictures of people celebrating the 4th of July throughout some of our country’s more recent years. What are some of your favorite pictures?

A giant American flag is displayed by the Amoskeag River Mills in Manchester, N.H., on July 4, 1915. The flag measured about 95 feet long, 50 feet high and weighed some 200 lbs. AP Photo/Harlan A. Marshall
Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, Democratic Presidential Nominee, cheerily returns the greetings of the huge crowd that turned out to see him when his train made a breif stop in Syracuse, NY, enroute from Chicago to Albany, NY, July 4, 1932. | AP Photo
Ralph Metcalfe of Marquette Club, anchor man on the relay team, is shown crossing the finish line to win the 400-meter relay for his team, July 4, 1936, in Princeton, N.J.  | AP Photo/Tom Sande
Americans in London celebrated their Independence Day at a party given by their Ambassador in London, Joseph Kennedy, at the Embassy in Princes Gate. Fanny Ward, left, with Miss F. Perry arriving at the Independence Day party at the American Embassy in London, England, on July 4, 1939. | AP Photo
U.S. troops in the New Hebrides islands, somewhere in the southwest Pacific on July 4, 1942. | AP Photo/Jack Rice
American soldiers, members of the Medical Corps display their chivalry as they help a group of American Army nurses arriving at the Normandy beachhead on July 4, 1944 to wade ashore from their landing craft.  | AP Photo
Thousands of people flock to the beach at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York on July 4, 1947 to celebrate Independence Day. | AP Photo
From left: Kenneth H. Nakamura, Rep. Daniel Inouye, Rep. John P. Saylor, Caroyln Long, and Fred A. Seaton pose beside the new 50-Star United States flag that was officially unveiled over Fort McHenry in Baltimore on July 4, 1960. | AP Photo
Astronaut John Glenn, wearing his Western Stetson hat, sets his teeth in to a piece of barbecued spare ribs, as the seven astronauts and personnel of the Manned Space Craft Center were officially welcomed, July 4, 1962, Houston, TX. The Astronauts were presented with the Western Stetsons during ceremonies prior to the barbecue lunch. His wife Annie Glenn is on the left. | AP Photo/Ed Kolenovsky
This view, from the Virginia side of the Potomac River, shows the moon above the Iwo Jima Statue as fireworks burst over Washington, D.C., on July 4, 1966. The Washington Monument, obelisk, and the Lincoln Memorial can be seen in the background. AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi
A shower of the traditional Fourth of July fireworks sparkle in the sky as the full moon shines in this view from the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., July 4, 1966. Seen in the background is the illuminated Washington Monument. | AP Photo
A huge United States flag fronts the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, July 4, 1970 as the Rev. Billy Graham speaks from above. Graham was the featured speaker in opening event on the religious and patriotic program on Honor America Day. | AP Photo
One of six San Francisco 49ers cheerleaders grabs a dance partner while several hundred soldiers look on, during Fourth of July celebrations at Camp McGovern, headquarters for the First Brigade of the 1st Armored Division on Thursday July 4, 1996. The cheerleaders were making the rounds at several of the American IFOR camps in northern Bosnia where some 16,000 Americans were based as part of Fourth of July festivities. | AP Photo/Staton R. Winter
Nyoman Budiartha of Decatur, Ga., holds an American flag and an Indonesian flag as his cools off in a water spray after running the Peachtree Road Race Saturday, morning, July 4, 1998. | AP Photo/John Bazemore
Gen. David Petraeus re-enlists U.S. military service members during a mass re-enlistment ceremony in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, July 4, 2008. 1,215 service members re-enlisted during an Independence Day ceremony at al-Faw palace at Camp Victory. | AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic
Happy Fourth of July, 2018! | Pixabay

Featured image: This view, from the Virginia side of the Potomac River, shows the moon above the Iwo Jima Statue as fireworks burst over Washington, D.C., on July 4, 1966. The Washington Monument, obelisk, and the Lincoln Memorial can be seen in the background. | AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi