When I woke up this morning, the photo below was in an e-mail from the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI. I tried to find out how many American flags line the 660-ft. front porch, but couldn't find the answer. There are several, and they're a beautiful sight.
Americans began observing the 4th of July as early as 1777, when the first-ever major celebration in Philadelphia included a parade, a 13-shot cannon salute, and fireworks, but Congress didn't make it official until 1870, when it was part of a bill passed to recognize major state holidays at a federal level like Independence Day, Christmas and New Year's Day. The 4th did not become a paid legal holiday until 1938, as part of a bill that granted holiday leave to employees of the federal government.