across the United States are celebrating Independence Day (Friday),
commemorating the country's birth as a nation 232 years ago.
July fourth, 1776, was the day delegates from the 13 original American colonies officially declared independence from Britain.
A concert and a giant fireworks show are annual holiday traditions in Washington, D.C., as is a hot dog eating contest at New York's Coney Island.
U.S. President George Bush welcomed 72 new U.S. citizens in a ceremony in (the southeastern U.S. state of) Virginia at the home of Thomas Jefferson -- the author of the Declaration of Independence and the country's third president.
President Bush's remarks were disrupted several times by shouting protesters. He responded by saying "we believe in free speech in the United States of America."
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is participating in a parade in (the north-central state of) Montana. Republican candidate John McCain is in his home state of Arizona (in the southwest).