What are you doing on July 4?

Every year, we celebrate Independence Day on the steps of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. It’s a fun, free event for the whole family!

(And if you don’t like the heat, you can now watch the program live from inside the National Archives building. Email specialevents@nara.gov to reserve a seat in our air-conditioned theater.)


This year, Steve Scully of C-SPAN is our Master of Ceremonies. The Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, will welcome the crowds. Our special guests George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Ned Hector, and Abigail Adams will read aloud the Declaration of Independence. This is your chance to boo and huzzah like the colonists of 1776!

Show your love of history with a National Archives temporary tattoo!

The 3rd United States Infantry “Old Guard” Continental Color Guard will present the colors, and the United States Air Force Band will sing the National Anthem.

After the program, you can go into the building and see the original Declaration of Independence in the Rotunda where it is on permanent display. (Look for the mysterious handprint!) And don’t miss the family activities in the Boeing Learning Center.

Here’s the schedule of events—stay and watch the parade afterwards!

10 a.m.–11 a.m.

Declaration of Independence Reading Ceremony

  • Presentation of colors by the Continental Color Guard*
  • Performance by the Fife and Drum Corps*
  • Remarks by Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero United States
  • Steve Scully, C-SPAN, emcee
  • Dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence by special guests including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Ned Hector (portrayed by historical reenactors)

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

11 a.m–4 p.m.

Inside the National Archives Building, Boeing Learning Center

  • Take part in hands-on family activities, including storytime and crafts.
  • Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., meet Revolutionary figures: Abigail and John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Ned Hector, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.
The 3rd U.S. Infantry "The Old Guard" Fife and Drum Corps in front of the National Archives building. Photo by Charles Fazio.

See you there!

July 4th at the National Archives is presented in partnership with the Foundation for the National Archives and is made possible in part by the generous support of Lead Sponsor John Hancock Financial and Dykema.

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