The pulling apart was real enough, but several events between 1975 and 1980 invited Americans to interrupt their everyday lives and rediscover their identity as Americans. We note here three such events, the third of them extending into the 1980s.
The bicentennial of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 inspired a wide variety of celebrations. Fireworks filled the skies in communities of all sizes across the nation, and parades, parties, races, games, and historical reenactments occurred in many cities and towns. Some celebrations featured the distinctive styles of ethnic groups, noting the important contribution made by immigrants throughout two centuries. Some celebrated with exhibitions of arts and crafts, often reflecting local or regional distinctiveness. The most American of foods--sweet corn, watermelon, and hot dogs--were on the menu everywhere. Religious congregations assembled to remember with thanks the blessings enjoyed by Americans.
In some cities, spectacular fireworks displays, preceded by concerts and other entertainment, attracted hundreds of thousands of children and adults. Six million persons on the shore of New York Harbor watched an armada of fifty vessels from the U.S. Navy and other countries sail from the Verrazano Narrows Bridge past the Statue of Liberty to the George Washington Bridge. In Philadelphia, where it all began, commemorative activities included striking the Liberty Bell thirteen times, once for each of the original colonies that had united in declaring their independence from the British Crown. Across the nation, bells in