Today marks the 236th anniversary of the signing in Philadelphia of the Declaration of Independence by leaders of the American Colonies. More than five years of war ensued as Americans battled attempts by the Crown to reassert its primacy over the will of the people. The date marks an extraordinary exercise of self-determination and the birth of the United States.

John Trumbull’s iconic painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Each year we celebrate our Independence with parades, festivals, picnics, concerts, and fireworks across the nation. Please join us this year for a special Fourth of July commemoration on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building featuring music, dancing, fireworks, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympics teams, and a tribute to American servicemen and women, streamed live to Embassy Wellington’s video page THIS THURSDAY at 12:00 noon, New Zealand time.

Closer to home, there will be a free concert TONIGHT at 7:00 pm at Wellington’s Cathedral of St. Paul (at the corner of Molesworth and Hill Streets) in honor of the holiday, presented by the acclaimed California Youth Symphony. Based in Palo Alto, the group is California’s oldest and one of America’s best youth orchestras. Come on by for some mellifluous after-dinner entertainment.

Until then, I’ll whet your appetite with photos of one of my favorite Fourth of July traditions. If you are a geography whiz or just a lucky guesser, see if you can identify the locations pictured in the 18 photos below. Send me a note with your determinations if you think you know all or most of them, and I’ll acknowledge the top geo-masters in a future post. Here goes: 

Happy Independence Day.