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July 4th spotlight on patriotic national parks

DC-fireworks-Washington-Monument-Capitol-Dome
Washington, D.C, fireworks illuminate the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol dome.

Happy Independence Day!

My neighborhood kicked off today with our annual Fourth of July gathering. It included a parade around the flatter (our community is in a hilly area) of our two parks. Cars and golf carts and bicycles and baby strollers and individual walkers all decker out in red, white, and blue regalia made the nearly one-mile trek.

There was a good turnout since my neighbors and I, like a lot of Americans, usually spend this holiday close to home. That's especially true in years when July 4 falls on one of the three middle-of-the-week days.

However, if you later decide you want to venture a bit farther from home, consider extending today's focus by visiting some patriotic places.

Here are three suggestions from the National Park Foundation (NPF) of designated locales that exemplify and expand views of Americans' original and continuing quests for independence.

Valley Forge National Historical Park: The Patriots of African Descent Monument in Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania honors the Black patriots who took part in the Valley Forge encampment.

Patriots-of-african-descent-monument-valley-forge_NPS-photo-G-Purifoy
Monument honoring the contributions of Black Americans in the American Revolution. (National Park Service Photo/G. Purifoy)

At least 500 African Americans, including free Black men, served and sacrificed. Many of them died to advance the fight for our new country's independence.

Adams National Historical Park: John Adams has had a bit of renaissance, albeit not necessarily a complimentary one, thanks to mentions of him in the award-winning Broadway musical "Hamilton." You can get another, and fuller, historical perspective of the rivalry between these two founding fathers at the Adams National Historical Park.

At the Massachusetts park dedicated to the Adams family, you'll also be able to learn more about Abigail Adams, who had an impact on the forming of the United States as wife and closest advisor of our second President John Adams, and mother of John Quincy Adams, our sixth commander-in-chief.

Independence National Historical Park: That brings us to another woman's participation in the reason for this day, the signing of the Declaration of Independence. At Independence National Historical Park, also in the Keystone State, you'll find Mary Katharine Goddard's name on that iconic document.

Goddard was not a signer, but she was a printer for the Continental Congress, and her name appears at the bottom of the copies she printed.

Declaration of Independence closeup

The Declaration of Independence that she printed in Baltimore, Maryland, in January 1777 was the first version to list the names of most of the signers. Goddard risked her life and her livelihood by including her own name.

Parks' continuing legacy: In the 247 years since the first celebration of the colonies breaking from Great Britain, the nation has grown in every way.

In the strictly physical context, U.S. national parks have from their founding existed to protect and maintain the places that make America great for the good of all people.

If you live near one, take advantage of the proximity and visit. If you're looking for somewhere you've never been, choose one of the United States' xx national parks.

Not only will you find some of the most beautify places in our country, you'll be treated to parts of U.S. history that probably didn't make it into any of your school's courses.

Donate to park preservation: If you want to help ensure that our parts are around for future visitors, you can contribute to the National Park Foundation (NPF). As the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, the NPF raises private funding to protect and preserve our national parks/ and connect everyone to America’s most special places. want

And here's what you knew had to be somewhere in this post. Gifts to NPF are tax deductible if you itemize expenses on your tax return, and follow the Internal Revenue Service's charitable giving rules.

That small tax break reminder is enough tax talk for today. Go out and enjoy America's birthday celebration. And stay safe if you're shooting off or around fireworks.

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