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Our View: Celebrate safely July 4

As far as birthday celebrations go, the Fourth of July is usually one of the best of the year. And we’re gearing up for this year’s party Thursday.

July 4, 1776, is the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted, an announcement by the Continental Congress that signified they no longer considered themselves part of the British Empire and were forming a new nation, the United States of America, made up of the 13 colonies.

It has become a day of parties and barbecues, ball games and flying American flags. It is a day to celebrate the country and all it stands for, and to remember those who have died protecting and fighting for the truths and freedoms the country and its citizens have held self-evident for centuries.

That will be done locally Thursday and this weekend, with parades, festivals and fireworks displays as the nation celebrates its 237th birthday.

We encourage residents to attend these events, to display pride at being Americans and living in a country that, for all its faults, trials and tribulations, remains one of the most free and best countries in the world.

And we encourage you to do so safely, to show respect to yourself and your neighbors as you celebrate your country.

If you’re driving or boating, don’t drink. Wear sunscreen if you’re out in the sun. If you display the flag, do so honorably.

Although it’s tempting to want to light off a few firecrackers, that’s best left to those who have the training to do so safely. It’s illegal to buy, use of possess commercial fireworks in Illinois without a display permit from local authorities, anyway.

Even sparklers need to be handled with care. They burn at about 1,800 degrees F, almost five times as hot as you’d set your oven to bake a batch of cookies, so it’s critical to respect the damage they can do.

Thursday is a day to celebrate. Please, as you wish America a happy birthday, do so responsibly.

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