Today the United States of America turns 243. We’re a nation of more than 327 million people, who speak over 350 languages, and unite as one country.
The U.S. Digital Service is tasked with making our government easier to access and more efficient for all Americans. Our projects impact everyone: your grandparent who’s a Medicare beneficiary, aunt who’s a Veteran, or first child enrolling in college.
We come from communities across the country because we build better products when we represent all of America.
We’re celebrating Independence Day by sharing favorite July 4th traditions from our hometowns and what we’re most excited about for America’s birthday in the nation’s capital.
Eunice Garcia (she/ her), Talent Operations — Palmdale, CA
Palmdale is a small, desert suburb of the Greater Los Angeles area. Growing up we would have a simple cookout at my parents house and then they would take my sister and I to the town square to watch the local fireworks display.
I’ve been lucky to be in D.C. for the past 5 years and for each of them, have watched the nation’s fireworks display from the White House South Lawn. This year I’m planning a barbecue on the National Mall with friends. 🏛🌭
Ellen Butters (she/ her), Visual Designer — Bethesda, MD
In third grade, I won an award for best decorated bike at the Wood Acres parade in Bethesda. It came with a giant trophy.
My sons now are 5 and 8, so they’re old enough to be in the parade. They’re excited, and I am too; proud of their own decorated bikes! 🚲🏆
Florence Kasule (she/ her), Procuremenati — Simi Valley, CA
When people think of 4th of July BBQ’ing, they don’t often think of vegetarian food. Growing up, I really enjoyed introducing friends and family to vegetarian BBQ!
This year, I’m looking forward to swimming and watching fireworks with my kids and our friends. 🥕🥗
Will Slack (he/ him), StratOps — Decatur, GA
Decatur has a 4th of July parade each year from a big church lawn to the town square. My dad would participate as “Uncle Sam” on stilts, wearing a very red, white, and blue outfit (with grown out facial hair), and I loved walking beside him as he tottered between the floats. Once on the square, a local band would play on the bandstand, little kids would play on the big subway ventilation shaft grill, and we’d all enjoy time picnicking on blankets until the fireworks were shot off a nearby parking garage in wonderfully warm southern temperatures. It was magical.
Since I’ve been in D.C., my favorite 4th of July memory is watching the fireworks from the roof of a federal building with colleagues who’d won the lottery to bring their families up there. 🎺🥁
Brent Maravillia (he/ him), Procuremenati — Camarillo, CA
My favorite memory is traveling with my family (I’m one of four kids) to the top of a hill in the neighboring town, Thousand Oaks. Since Southern California is known for being a very dry place, there was one year I remember that some brush caught fire from the fireworks.
Now that I live in the D.C. area with my family, it’s really special to be in the nation’s capital for Independence Day. Coming from a much smaller city, it’s neat to be in a place where there are a lot of people celebrating together in the nation’s capital.
This year, I’m looking forward to going to the neighborhood pool with my wife and kids to hang out with friends. 🎇🚒
Frankie Rosado (he/ him), Office Manager — Orlando, FL
My favorite 4th of July memory is from my service with the Peace Corps mission in Burkina Faso. Fellow Volunteers and I hosted an “America conference,” to share American culture with local people, Burkinabé, near the town of Dédougou. We made hamburgers, which was very confusing to Burkinabé. After we put the burgers together, they took them apart. “We’re not accustomed to these,” they said.
This year, I’m most excited to watch fireworks from a friend’s rooftop in Dupont Circle. My favorite part about D.C. is the buildings aren’t too tall and it’s possible to watch the fireworks from almost anywhere. 🍔😂
Noreen Hecmanczuk (she/ her), Government Relations — Pocono Lake, PA
Growing up in a small town in rural Pennsylvania, my favorite 4th of July memories involve the 6 F’s: family, friends, food, fireworks, our flag, and freedom! Each year we’d have a big cookout at my family home and end the day by watching the best fireworks in town.
My oldest daughter will be starting college in the fall just steps from where our country’s freedom first took shape. It makes this Independence Day even more meaningful. 🎓👨👩👧👧
Jeff Hayter (he/him), Digital Acquisitions, Hagerstown, MD
I grew up around the Antietam Battlefield and every year we would go see the fireworks and celebrations throughout town. Our July 4th events typically lasted days, included reenactments and historical tours, capped off by fireworks. Having lived and worked in this area for so long, it’s easy to forget the importance of the places you pass every day. It’s good to step back and embrace history.
My favorite D.C. Independence Day memory would have to be the time my wife and I decided to see the fireworks downtown and we were running late. We didn’t have time to make it all the way to the National Mall so we hopped on metro and got out at a much earlier stop. Just by luck we discovered a closed off street with the perfect view and no crazy crowds! 🚇🇺🇸
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