4th of July Photo Essay: These Photos Through the Years Honor and Celebrate America’s Independence

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Today – Monday, July 4 – our nation celebrates its 246th Independence Day.

In honor of the Federal holiday, Fox News Digital is highlighting joyful moments captured on film over the years.

Some date from as far back as 1919!

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Check out these classic photos and enjoy them on the 4th of July and every day of the year.

4th of July is a patriot’s time to shine

A woman waves an American flag while wearing a white dress. His companion wears a Statue of Liberty costume. The photo is circa 1919.
(GHI/Universal History Archive via Getty Images)

At a 4th of July event at Ellipse Park in Washington, DC, in 1919, two women display their patriotic pride with an American flag and a Statue of Liberty costume.

Music and the 4th of July go hand in hand

On July 4, 1922, three boys dressed in colonial attire embody “the spirit of 76” – imitating the painting created in 1876 by American artist Archibald M. Willard of Ohio.

A boy plays the flute while two other boys play the drums on July 4, circa 1922.

A boy plays the flute while two other boys play the drums on July 4, circa 1922.
(Buyenlarge/Getty Images)

The original painting depicts a trio of revolutionary soldiers marching with instruments, according to the Library of Congress.

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The painting is currently in the Breeders’ Room at Abbot Hall in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

Candles are a must

A girl holds two sparklers during a 4th of July celebration, circa 1930.

A girl holds two sparklers during a 4th of July celebration, circa 1930.
(Bettmann via Getty Images)

In the 1930s, Fourth of July celebrants weren’t afraid to use sparklers at Independence Day gatherings.

Beachgoers beat the heat

Warm temperatures drew record crowds to Jones Beach, Long Island on the 4th, circa 1936.

Warm temperatures drew record crowds to Jones Beach, Long Island on the 4th, circa 1936.
(Bettmann via Getty Images)

The 4th of July was a popular beach day for American families.

In 1936, thousands of people took to the sands and shores of Jones Beach, Long Island.

4th of July picnics bring families together

A family enjoys fried fish on the 4th of July at a picnic, circa 1940.

A family enjoys fried fish on the 4th of July at a picnic, circa 1940.
(Universal History Archive/Universal Pictures Group via Getty Images)

A farming family enjoyed a fried fish July 4 off the Cane River in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

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American photographer Marion Post Wolcott captured the scene for the Farm Security Administration in July 1940.

Patriotic parades entertain American crowds

Spectators watch a 4th of July parade and marching band in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, circa 1950.

Spectators watch a 4th of July parade and marching band in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, circa 1950.
(Heilman/Classicstock/Getty Images)

Residents gathered to watch an Independence Day parade in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Attendees watched as a marching band passed through Main Street.

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There’s pageantry on the 4th of July

In Pennsylvania, locals hold an annual contest called “The Queen of Candles,” which takes place on July 4.

It was started in 1942, taking place in Lititz – and there is a coronation procession for the winner.

Twelve high school girls are selected by their classmates through a ballot.

The first show was held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first candle lighting, according to the Borough of Lititz website.

Twelve high school girls are selected by their classmates through a ballot. The winner is named queen and the others are her court.

Contestants stand on a stage and light sparklers during The Queen of Candles, circa 1955.

Contestants stand on a stage and light sparklers during The Queen of Candles, circa 1955.
(Evans/Three Lions/Getty Images)

The Borough of Lititz reports that the July 4 party now draws nearly 20,000 people.

You can’t have music without dancing

Two men dance during a performance on Independence Day, circa 1960.

Two men dance during a performance on Independence Day, circa 1960.
(Denver Post via Getty Images)

On July 2, 1960, two men celebrated the 4th of July early when they danced to a live performance by a performing group named the How You Been String Band.

The celebration took place in downtown Denver.

Youth groups often participate

Boy Scouts carry American flags for July 4 (AKA Honor America Day) in Washington, DC, circa 1970.

Boy Scouts carry American flags for July 4 (AKA Honor America Day) in Washington, DC, circa 1970.
(Alan Raia/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

Boy Scouts of America troops don their uniforms and carry American flags during a July 4, 1970 procession in Washington, D.C.

4th of July shows are in demand

A massive crowd gathers to watch a Fourth of July performance at the Hatch Memorial Shell in Boston, circa 1980.

A massive crowd gathers to watch a Fourth of July performance at the Hatch Memorial Shell in Boston, circa 1980.
(Janet Knott/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Residents attended a Fourth of July concert at the Hatch Memorial Shell, an outdoor entertainment venue on the Charles River Esplanade in Boston, Massachusetts.

They gathered before the fireworks on July 4, 1980.

Nathan’s Famous is the 4th of July game

Three male contestants in the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, New York, pose with plates of hot dogs, circa July 4, 1987.

Three male contestants in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, New York, pose with plates of hot dogs, circa July 4, 1987.
(Walter Leporati/Getty Images)

Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs, the American chain of hot dog restaurants, has drawn millions of visitors to its Coney Island location with the annual 4th of July hot dog eating contest.

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The competition started in 1916.

American flags take center stage

A car displays two American flags before a 4th of July parade in Carnation, Washington, circa 1990.

A car displays two American flags before a 4th of July parade in Carnation, Washington, circa 1990.
(Bromberger Hoover Photography/Getty Images)

Two American flags were mounted on a Cadillac trunk before a 4th of July parade, held in Carnation, Washington, in 1990.

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Bonus: Here are the 4th of July celebrations in the 21st century

Wayne Cotter tows his son, Isaac, at a 4th of July parade in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, circa 2000.

Wayne Cotter tows his son, Isaac, at a 4th of July parade in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, circa 2000.
(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Parades remain a family affair in the United States.

On July 4, 2000, comedian Wayne Cotter served as Grand Marshal for the Eighth Annual Hidden Woods 4th of July Parade and Party in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Cotter made sure his son, Isaac, didn’t miss the fun and pulled him into a festive wagon.

Families seek the great outdoors

Families picnic and relax in a park in Silverton, Colorado on July 4, circa 2010.

Families picnic and relax in a park in Silverton, Colorado on July 4, circa 2010.
(Educational Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The 4th of July is a holiday that encourages families to go out.

In Silverton, Colorado, many families gathered at a local park on July 4, 2010.

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Fireworks are a 4th of July staple!

4th of July fireworks launched behind the White House in Washington, DC, show, circa 2020.

4th of July fireworks launched behind the White House in Washington, DC, show, circa 2020.
(HUM Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

In 2020, a Salute for America fireworks display was shot behind the White House in honor of the 4th of July.

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The pyrotechnic show was completed by a specially lit gantry in red, white and blue.

Jack C. Nugent