Compared to many nations of the world, the United States is a rather young country.
Nonetheless, Americans take every opportunity to celebrate the birthday of the U.S. each July 4th and when the big anniversaries of the founding of the U.S. come around, it’s reason to pull out all the stops.
Such was the case in 1976, when the U.S. was celebrating its Bicentennial – the 200th birthday of America.
Originally, the grand Bicentennial of the U.S. was to be primarily centered in one city. Philadelphia or Boston were the logical choices, but after some debate, the Bicentennial Administration decided that one central celebration wasn’t the best idea, instead encouraging big cities and little towns everywhere to do their own thing to mark the 200th birthday of the U.S.
And that’s exactly what happened! From coast to coast, everyone brought out the red, white, and blue and decked their streets, homes, and commercial buildings with flags, banners, and all sorts of other patriotic decorations.
Parades, picnics, memorial services, and fireworks displays were the chosen fare – especially for the big day – July 4th, 1976.
Everyone got into the act and it was a wonderful time of patriotism for a nation who was enjoying a time of peace after the tumultuous Vietnam War and the divisiveness it caused.
1976 Bicentennial Special Events
Though there were celebrations literally everywhere, there were a number of notable special events that were organized by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration commemorating this special year.
- Operation Sail – This wonderful event included an international fleet of “tall ships” that were gathered in New York Harbor to celebrate the Fourth of July. The grand ships then sailed to Boston, arriving there a week later. Visitors were permitted to board most of the ships, which were fascinating to explore.
- Royal Visit – Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip of England came to the U.S. in a symbolic visit of friendship to explore many of the cities that played an important roll in the founding of the country.
- Philadelphia, in homage to its role as the “Cradle of Liberty”, was chosen to host a plethora of major league sporting events in 1976, including the MLB All-Star Game, NBA All-Star Game, NHL All-Star Game, and the NCAA Final Four.
- The U.S. Department of the Treasury issued a series of Bicentennial currency, specifically, the quarter, half-dollar, and silver dollar. Each had a unique Bicentennial-related design and Americans quickly began collecting them as soon as they were released.
- The American Freedom Train set forth from Delaware – the first state of the Union – in April 1975 on a 21-month trip across the United States. It traveled more than 25,000 miles and visited all 48 states on the mainland. The tour ended in Miami on Christmas 1976.