Then & Now | Celebrations of Independence

(Souvenir book of black and white postcards with colored cover. The book celebrates “Fêtes en l’honneur l’indépendance Tchéco-Slovaque ” or, “Celebrations in honor of Czecho-Slovak independence.” WRHS Library.)


While July 4th serves as the day we celebrate the independence of the United States, the diversity of our city and our nation creates a panoply of other celebrations that led to independence or major political changes that shaped the many individual communities that form our nation.

For Mexican Americans, September 16 marks the beginning of the battle for Mexican independence in 1810 and Cinco de Mayo celebrates the defeat of the French regime that had taken over Mexico on May 5, 1862.   Polish Americans celebrate May 3rd as the adoption of the Polish Constitution on that date in 1791.  Turks celebrate Cumhurriyet Bayrami, on October 29th commemorating the creation of the modern Turkish Republic in 1929, and for the French Bastille Day on July 14th recalls the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789 with the storming of the Bastille, a military fortress and Prison.  Italians will choose June 2nd to celebrate the end of the monarchy and beginning of the new Republic of Italy in 1946.

And more broadly there are dates that commemorate the independence and freedom of wider segments of our population – Juneteenth marks the final ending of slavery in the United States in 1865, and Pride Week recalls The Stonewall in New York City, on June 28th 1969, an event that marked the beginning of “independence” for the LGBTQ community.  All of these celebrations, and more, are part of a nation that came into being because of a declaration adopted in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.