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Dates for assembly

July 4 American Independence Day. The original 13 American states claimed their independence from Britain on this date in 1776.

Outline script for assembly leaders

It's America's birthday - and a national holiday. Most Americans celebrate with a barbeque. Hamburgers and hot dogs are the most popular food, but more and more Americans are having elaborate "'cues", as they call them, with marinated steaks, ribs, chicken and vegetables cooked on an enormous grill in the family backyard or garden. Another popular ingredient is fresh corn on the cob. Americans leave them in their husks, wet them, and just throw them on the grill.

Friends and family are invited round - especially to homes with a backyard pool - but it's not such a big family gathering holiday as the Thanksgiving, in November.

Americans celebrate their national day in other ways. Some will drive out of town for the three-day weekend and the roads will be full of RVs (recreation vehicles, which are often highly sophisticated motor homes), SUVs (sports utility vehicles) pulling boats, and pick-up trucks loaded with camping gear and coolers. Usually the beaches are crowded and any campsites by rivers and lakes are full.

Many small towns have a parade led by a local celebrity or the mayor, featuring a marching band, and people dressed in costumes. The big cities have larger parades and everywhere you can see the American flag. In the evening, people let off fireworks. In the West, in recent years, due to the drought, there have been many restrictions on the private use of fireworks, and people have been encouraged to attend organised fireworks shows. Even so, you can see fireworks exploding in the sky in every direction, just like Guy Fawkes night except with warm weather.

All this is to celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Follow-up

Research key events in the American War of Independence (1775-1783). Full information about Independence Day can be found at www.holidays.netindependence.

Rehearse and present a dramatised reading of Longfellow's widely anthologised poem, "Paul Revere's Ride".

Hold an American-style 'cue for charity.

Britain has no national day. Should it? If so, when?

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