My Dear Little Ones:

I have something I want to tell you about, but because we live so far apart, I can’t do it in person. Instead, I’ll write to you about it because it’s so important for you to know.

Guess what’s going to happen this week? It’s something you love because they’re always lots of fun! It’s a party – a birthday party!

No, it’s not your party and it isn’t Mommy or Daddy’s birthday party either. But it is a party and you’re invited! It’ll be the biggest and best birthday party you’ve ever seen.

This Wednesday, the 4th of July, is the birthday of your country. I’ll bet you didn’t realize that a country could have a birthday. Maybe you didn’t even realize that you have a country! But you do – it’s the United States of America, and on Wednesday, the USA is going to celebrate with the most amazing birthday party!

Do you know how old the United States will be? Guess! No, older than that; older even than Mommy and Daddy or Grandma and Papa. A lot older!

OK, I’ll tell you. On Wednesday, July 4th, the USA will be 225 years old. Wow, that sounds old doesn’t it? It’s so old that you could never fit all those candles on a birthday cake!

So instead of candles on a cake there will be candles and big lights in the sky at night – a wonderful fireworks show. You’ll see colored lights being shot way, way up into the sky and then the lights will turn into all kinds of beautiful designs and patterns. Red, white blue, yellow, green, purple and silver and gold and many more colors will be in the sky over your heads. It will look like a world of magic and stardust.

But the fireworks are at night at the end of the celebration. Before that, during the day, lots of other things will be happening. There will be parades and music and picnics with hot dogs and ice cream and lots of fun and games. It’s a holiday!

Many houses and stores will have flags flying in front of them. Those flags will be all different sizes but they will all look the same. That’s because your country has its own flag.

Your flag has a nickname; it’s called “Old Glory.” It has stars and stripes on it. The stars are white on a background of blue and the stripes are red and white. There are 50 stars and 13 stripes.

Each star stands for one of the 50 states in your country. There are 13 stripes, and they stand for the original 13 colonies. In fact, the colonies were there even before there was a United States.

That’s really what the celebration is all about. July 4th is the day your country was born. It was the day the 13 colonies became the very first states and became part of a brand new country.

The real name of the day is Independence Day. That’s why we celebrate – because we became independent. It’s a celebration that’s different from any other birthday party anywhere in the world! It is that special.

A long time ago, the king in England was in charge of all the people in the colonies. The people had to do what he said, and they never had a chance to be free. As time went by, the people realized they wanted to be on their own to make decisions and take care of themselves. The first big decision they made was to break away from the king and start their own, independent country. Can you imagine? Starting a whole new country! But that’s exactly what they did, and they wrote a Declaration of Independence which said everything they wanted their new country to be.

There would be no king. That’s right, none. It was decided that people would elect their own leaders to be in charge of running the government.

The most important part of the new country would be freedom for every citizen. This kind of freedom had a partner – personal responsibility. That means that while the people would be free to live their lives, they would also be responsible for what they did.

Freedom and responsibility go together and are part of what makes your country so very special. Did you know that there is no other country in the whole world just like it? Wow!

Did you realize that you are a citizen of your country? You are! That makes you a very lucky person. You are free. Did you know that no one else in the whole wide world is as free as you are? That’s because you are a citizen of the USA.

That’s why we celebrate Independence Day – the day your country was born, the day we told the king we didn’t need him anymore.

So have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends. Enjoy the picnics and games and carnivals, go to the parades and salute the flag and honor the soldiers and sailors who help keep us free – and be sure to see the fireworks show at night before you go to bed.

But after the party is over, and during all the rest of the year, never ever forget your responsibility to honor and protect the freedom of your country. We celebrate July 4th every year to be sure none of us forget how important our independence really is.

Without it, there is no freedom.

With love,

Your loving Aunt

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