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Day 18, July 4, 2012: Today was a wonderful day. Today, we celebrated the founding of a great nation in style.

Alaina and I went to Mt. Vernon in the morning to begin our festivities of July 4th. Spending the morning of the 4th at one of our founding fathers’ home was absolutely amazing. As always, Mt. Vernon charmed her visitors with the grand house, fantastic view from the back porch overlooking the Potomac River. Mt. Vernon had restored even more of the buildings from the last time I was there. The entire estate was decked out in 4th of July attire. There were men, women and children donned in time-appropriate attire, a concert band played on the law in front of the house, and there was a lovely fireworks (during the day…they still look cool!) display overlooking the Potomac. The festivities did not end there–Mt. Vernon had an American birthday cake for everyone, President and Mrs. Washington were “there to visit” (and I must say that whomever was portraying each of them did an amazing job), and tour of the house was just magnificent. The rooms in the house have been restored–it was beautiful (somewhat similar to Williamsburg, but varied and more color selection than Williamsburg). Don’t worry, I picked up the color sample brochure in the gift shop on our way out of Mt. Vernon (you can order the colors from the house!).

After we had exhausted all there was to see at Mt. Vernon, we headed back to our dorm to switch purses for fanny packs (yes, I said that correctly) and then we headed to National Mall a little before 5 p.m.. We decided to sit on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (which, I must say, was an absolutely perfect decision). When we arrived, it wasn’t horribly crowded, but as it drew closer to 9 p.m., the steps and lawns around the memorial began to be packed with over-heated bodies waiting for the amazing display that was ahead. We each brought a book to read while we were waiting for the festivities to begin (I am still reading the excellent book, Becoming Marie Antionette, I HIGHLY recommend it…it’s fascinating).

Once it reached 9:00 p.m., the steps were packed with people–with some trying to engage the crowd in chants of “U.S.A” and singing “God Bless America” along with other ballads that were American based. It was quite entertaining, and made the 4th feel a little more patriotic.

Then the show began. The glorious display of fireworks (which were shot off from the reflecting pool…which currently only reflects about 10 feet wide because of repairs…but none-the-less, the fireworks were somewhat above us, which was just breathtaking) began and honestly, we could FEEL the boom we were so close. It was perfect. The loudspeakers were playing music–many of us sang along to the American themed music as well as Jeremiah was a Bullfrog and others. It was such a fun evening. The fireworks show was truly the most spectacular I have ever seen in my life, and if I am ever blessed with a chance to be in D.C. for the 4th of July, I shall be returning to my spot on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to bask in the multi-colored lights booming overhead.

After the fireworks were over, to avoid the crowds some, we remained at the Lincoln Memorial, exploring all parts of the monument. Basically, spending the 4th of July in D.C. was the best day ever and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything in the world.

For more fun things throughout the day, and to see other pictures and oddities that occur during the day, follow me on Twitter: @amyestone12