In Waterloo, New York, the origin has not been lost and in fact the meaning has become even more special. PresidentLyndon Johnson proclaimed Waterloo the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1966, 100 years after the first commemoration (празднование). Every May 30, townspeople still walk to the cemeteries and hold memorial services. They decorate the graves with flags and flowers. Then they walk back to the park in the middle of town. In the middle of the park, near a monument dedicated to soldiers, sailors and marines (морские пехотинцы), the Gettysburg address is read, followed by Retired Major General Logan's Order # 11 designating Decoration Day. The village choirs sing patriotic songs. In the evening, school children take part in a parade.
Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia is the nation's largest national cemetery. Not only are members of the armed forces buried here; astronauts, explorers and other distinguished Americans have all been honoured with a special place here. President John F. Kennedy is buried in a spot overlooking Washington, D.C.
Here in the early hours of the Friday morning before Memorial Day, soldiers of the Third U.S. infantry walk along the rows of headstones. Each soldier stops at a headstone, reaches to a bundle of flags he is carrying, pulls one out and pushes it into the ground. These soldiers are part of a special regiment (полк). Most consider it a privilege to place flags on the more than two hundred thousand graves of soldiers who served in the wars or who died in them. "They have done their job," said one soldier, "and now it's my turn to do mine."
It is an equal honour to guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier all year. There are actually four soldiers buried in this spot: the unknown soldiers of the two World Wars, the Korean conflict, and the Vietnam War. Each soldier represents all of those who gave their lives in the modern wars. Soldiers from the Army's Third Infantry guard the tomb twenty-four hours a day. Wreath-laying ceremonies take place all through the year and people from all over the world come to watch the changing of the guard. On another hill of Arlington Cemetery there is a mass grave of unidentified soldiers from the Civil War.
On Memorial Day, the President or Vice President of the United States gives a speech and lays a wreath on the tombs. Members of the armed forces shoot a rifle salute in the air. Veterans and families come to lay their own wreaths and say prayers. There is a chance that one of the soldiers buried here is a father, son, brother or friend.
"Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof. "
-words written on the Liberty Bell
Independence Day is regarded as the birthday of the United States as a free and independent nation. Most Americans simply call it the "Fourth of July," on which date it always falls.
The holiday recalls the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. At that time, the people of the 13 British colonies located along the eastern coast of what is now the United States were involved in a war over what they considered unjust treatment by the king and parliament in Britain. The war began in 1775. As the war continued, the colonists realized that they were fighting not just for better treatment; they were fighting for freedom from England's rule. The Declaration of Independence, signed by leaders from the colonies, stated this clearly, and for the first time in an official document the colonies were referred to as the United States of America.
By the middle of the 1700s, the 13 colonies that made up part of England's empire in the New World were finding it difficult to be ruled by a king 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. They were tired of the taxes imposed upon them. But independence was a gradual (постепенный) and painful process. The colonists could not forget that they were British citizens and that they owed allegiance (были зависимы) to King George III.
A "tea party" and a "Massacre" were two events that hurried destiny. Along with general unrest these events united the colonists. In 1767 a tea company in India, owned by England, was losing money. To save the company, England levied a tax on tea sold in the colonies in 1773. Partly as a joke, Samuel Adams and other Bostonians dressed up as Indians and dumped a cargo (груз) of the India Company Tea into the Massachusetts Bay (бухту) . King George III did not think it was funny, nor did he lift the tax on tea. In the Boston harbour, British soldiers were jeered and stoned by colonists who thought the soldiers had been sent to watch them. The soldiers fired into the crowd and killed a few citizens. The colonists exaggerated the number killed and called it a massacre (бойня).
Virginia took the first step toward independence by voting to set up a committee to represent the colonies. This First Continental Congress met in September of 1774. They drew up a list of grievances against the crown which became the first draft of a document that would formally separate the colonies from England. George Washington took command of the Continental Army and began fighting the British in Massachusetts. For the next eight years, colonists fought fervently (горячо) in the Revolutionary War.
In the meantime, a war of words was being waged in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress presented and debated a second draft of the list of grievances, and John Hancock, the president of the Second Continental Congress, was the first to sign. The document, called the Declaration of Independence, was treasonous against the crown and the fifty-six men who signed it were in danger of being executed.
Independence Day is celebrated on July 4 because that is the day when the Continental Congress adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence. From July 8, 1776, until the next month, the document was read publicly and people celebrated whenever they heard it. The next year, in Philadelphia, bells rang and ships fired guns, candles and firecrackers were lighted. But the War of Independence dragged on until 1783, and in that year, Independence Day was made an official holiday. 1941 Congress declared 4th of July a federal holiday.
John Adams, a lawyer, the first Vice President and the Second President of the United States, was one of the members of the Second Continental Congress who signed the Declaration of Independence. He wrote to his wife, "I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival... it ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows,