This post is a bit late, I know, but I found it difficult to get in the proper mood until after I'd watched an incendiary expression of the joy and pride of freedom.
In other words... It really didn't feel like Independence Day until the fireworks started going off.
It helped that Mother Nature is giving her own salute to Lady Liberty in my little corner of the world tonight, with a beautiful rainstorm and cloud-to-cloud lightning.
So if you are, for some reason, at home, and on the computer, when you rightfully should be out launching small, colorfully explosive devices into the air, well, you'll see this tonight. If not, you'll see it tomorrow, and hopefully realize that my heart was in the right place.
As many others have said, this day is about so much more than bottle rockets and black cats. However, I can't say it any better than the first people did, so I'll just remind you of some of their immortal words:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.
This is just an excerpt of the full document which, I firmly believe should be well known to every American.
Everyone knows "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" but few have even a nodding acquaintance with the list of transgressions leveled against the King by our forefathers.
Take a moment and remember that everything we have today is because of people who stood up to a ruling monarch and refused to allow him to take their rights, their money, or their freedom. I am proud to be the legacy of such men and women, and hope that every one of my readers feel the same.