On July 4, 1776, 13 colonies spanning the east coast from Massachusetts to Georgia, adopted the U.S. Declaration of Independence, announcing themselves independent of British rule. War, however, raged on another six years.
Finally, in 1782, the British Parliament agreed to end all offensive operations in North America, giving Americans their first real taste of nationhood. When all was said and done, an estimated 6,800 Americans were killed in combat, and roughly 17,000 more died from disease during the War of Independence.
Today, the Fourth of July is a day for BBQs and fireworks—and also reflecting on what it means to be American. Here is what some citizens, from Los Angeles to New York, had to say when asked, “What does patriotism mean to you?”
“Where liberty dwells, there is my country.”—Benjamin Franklin