In his weekly radio address from Washington, President Barack Obama urged Americans to work to secure liberty and opportunity for their own children and future generations. The first family hosted U.S. servicemen and women at the White House for a barbeque.
Atlanta and Alaska held holiday runs — thousands raced up a 3,022-foot peak in Seward. In New Orleans, the Essence Festival celebrated black culture and music along the riverfront.
The celebratory mood turned somber in Oklahoma and Maine with fatal accidents during parades. In Edmond, Okla., a boy died after being run over by a float near the end of the town's LibertyFest parade. In Bangor, Maine, the driver of a tractor in the parade was killed after the vehicle was struck by an old fire truck.
Anti-surveillance protests cropped up in a number of cities on Independence Day, with activists speaking out against recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been secretly logging people's phone calls and Internet activity. In Philadelphia, more than 100 people marched downtown to voice their displeasure, chanting, "NSA, go away!"
But in Union Beach, N.J., which was destroyed by Sandy, residents had something to celebrate. The working-class town won a party and fireworks contest from the television station Destination America and USA Weekend magazine.
"It's wonderful. Everyone's been so depressed," said Mary Chepulis as she watched a band perform on a stage that stood where the home next to hers had been.