Join us for our Annual Fourth of July Celebration at the National Archives, the Home of the Declaration of Independence
Press Release · Friday, June 14, 2024

Washington, DC

On Thursday, July 4, 2024, the National Archives will celebrate the 248th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence with its traditional in-person Fourth of July program featuring musical performances and family activities. 

“On the Fourth of July, we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed our nation's independence from Great Britain and set forth the ideals of freedom, equality, and democracy. It is a day to reflect on how far we have come as a nation and to recommit ourselves to these ideals,” said Archivist of the United States Dr. Colleen Shogan.  “As the home of the Declaration and our other founding documents, the National Archives is proud to play our part in preserving, protecting and sharing our nation's history and heritage. We welcome everyone to come celebrate with us.”

This year's keynote speaker is Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force (CMSAF) JoAnne S. Bass (Retired). She became the 19th CMSAF, and the first woman to hold the highest senior enlisted rank in any United States military branch, on August 14, 2020, and she served in this capacity until her retirement this year. As the CMSAF, she represented the highest enlisted level of leadership and, as such, provided direction for the enlisted force and represented their interests, as appropriate, to the American public and to those in all levels of government. 

Additional highlights include welcoming remarks by the Archivist of the United States, a variety of educational and family-friendly programs with historical figures and Archives educators, and a lively patriotic reading ceremony hosted by WUSA9 News Anchor Allison Seymour. 

"As always, the National Archives Foundation is proud to support the annual July 4th Reading Ceremony and the National Archives mission of sharing America's past through the preservation of documents like the original Declaration of Independence'' said Secretary Rodney Slater, Chair and President of the National Archives Foundation Board. "We believe that the 4th of July starts at the Archives with the many stories of our great experiment and our work for almost 250 years to strive towards that more perfect union."

All July 4th activities are free and open to the public. In celebration of the Fourth of July, the National Archives Galleries will have extended hours of 10 a.m. until 7 p.m on July 3 to 5. Timed entry tickets to see the original Declaration of Independence in person are available, but not required.

July 4th at the National Archives is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of Comcast Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, John Hancock, and Dykema.

PROGRAM INFORMATION:  July 4th at the National Archives

WHEN:      Thursday, July 4, 2024

                     Ceremony: 10 a.m.–11 a.m.  

                     Family activities: 10 a.m.–4 p.m. 

                     Exhibits (including the original Declaration of Independence): 10 a.m.–7 p.m. 

WHERE:    National Archives Building, Constitution Avenue steps 

                     Between 7th and 9th Streets, NW, Washington, DC

                     A riser will be reserved for the press.

Note: The 10 a.m. ceremony will be livestreamed on the National Archives YouTube channel and on the US National Archives Facebook page. 

This family event is free and open to the public. Seating on the Constitution Avenue steps is available on a first-come, first-seated basis.

Patriotic Shopping at the National Archives Tent Store on Constitution Avenue 

8:30 a.m.–6 p.m.

Live Musical Performance by The Experience Band and Show
9 a.m.–9:45 a.m. 

Declaration of Independence Reading Ceremony 

10 a.m.–11 a.m.

  • Greetings by WUSA9 News Anchor Allison Seymour
  • Presentation of colors by the Continental Color Guard*
  • Live performance of the national anthem by the Marymount University Chamber Singers directed by Dr. Kimberly Hess
  • Performance by the Fife and Drum Corps*
  • Remarks by Archivist of the United States Dr. Colleen Shogan
  • Keynote Speech by CMSAF JoAnne S. Bass, USAF (Retired)
  • Dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence by costumed interpreters  portraying historical characters, including Abigail Adams, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Forten, John Hancock, Ned Hector, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington 
  • Live performance of “America the Beautiful” by Millicent Scarlett, Soprano

* Continental Color Guard and Fife and Drum Corps provided by U.S. 3rd Infantry, the Old Guard.

Live Musical Performance by The Experience Band and Show
11 a.m.–11:45 a.m.

Stay and enjoy front-row seats for the National Independence Day Parade at 11:45 a.m.

Family Activities

10 a.m.–4 p.m.

Participate in hands-on family activities:

  • Sign the Declaration of Independence
  • Declaring Independence Scavenger Hunt
  • Make your own Independence Day button
  • Fun craft activity stations
  • Meet and have your picture taken with Revolutionary figures Abigail and John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Ned Hector, John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington between noon and 4 p.m.
  • And a whole lot more!

Related Upcoming Virtual Programs

Help transcribe military pension files from the Revolutionary War!

Revolutionary War Pension Files Transcription Mission

In celebration of the 250th anniversary of American independence, the National Archives and the National Park Service are collaborating on a special project to transcribe Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, ca. 1800–ca. 1912. These Revolutionary War Pension Files consist of applications and other records pertaining to claims for pensions and bounty land warrants. 

Related online exhibit highlight struggle for equal and civil rights

  • Records of Rights permanent exhibit explores the ongoing struggle of Americans to define, attain, and protect the ideals of freedom enshrined in our nation’s founding documents. The “Bending Towards Justice” section showcases the drive for civil rights for African Americans. Online curators’ tour here.

Related videos on the National Archives YouTube Channel:

About the National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent federal agency that serves American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our government, so people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. The National Archives ensures continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives directly touch the lives of millions of people. The agency supports democracy, promotes civic education, and facilitates historical understanding of our national experience. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, and Presidential Libraries and online at

About the National Archives Foundation

The National Archives Foundation is an independent nonprofit that increases public awareness of the National Archives, inspires a deeper appreciation of our country’s heritage and encourages citizen engagement in our democracy. The foundation generates financial and creative support for National Archives exhibitions, public programs and educational initiatives, introducing America’s records to people around the U.S. and the world. Learn more at


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This page was last reviewed on June 21, 2024.
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