Since 1952, the Declaration of Independence has been raised from its vault each day to give tourists a close-up view of history.
But, CBS News Correspondent Bob Orr reports, this year's July Fourth visitors to the National Archives Rotunda were the last to see America's birth certificate for a while. The Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights will be removed from public view Thursday for a 2-year restoration.
Meanwhile, as most of the nation celebrated America's 225th birthday with parades, fireworks and barbecues, thousands of immigrants marked Independence Day by embracing their new home.
On board the USS Constitution in Boston Harbor, 19 immigrants were sworn in as American citizens.
Leila Nessralla, who moved from Lebanon in 1996, said she was drawn to citizenship by her desire to vote, as well as a desire to be just like her children.
"I have two daughters that are American; now nothing separates us," she said.
Military veterans from the city's Chinatown neighborhood celebrated the day by raising an American flag. Immigrants Kin Ye, 72, and Liu Jing Le, 65, sang a Chinese translation of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
"We want to get people to recognize we're patriotic to the country we adopted," said Raymond Chin, president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and member of the American Legion Post 328.
Gregorian, who left Iran at age 15, is president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
"We all share the common fate of this country," Gregorian told the crowd of about 1,500 at the Independence Day celebration in Monticello.
"We have all chosen the United States for its rights, institutions and opportunities... We come not only to enjoy its benefits, but we come to improve it... We know America is not perfect, but it is perfectable," he said.
Elsewhere, revelers gilled hamburgers and hot dogs, camped out for the best seats for fireworks displays, and enjoyed a much-deserved day off from work.
Atlanta's parade grand marshal was Navy Lt. Shane Osborn, the pilot of a spy plane that collided with a Chinese fighter jet and crash landed in April.
"It's good to be back in the United States," said Osborn, who with his 23 crew members was held in China for 11 days.
More than 200,000 people turned out to watch the 216th annual Bristol, R.I., parade, the nation's oldest.
In Carmel, Ind., Richard Jewell, the man wrongly suspected in the bombing during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, was the grand marshal of the city's holiday parade. "I thought it was great," he said.
Fans of the Boston Pops lined up Wednesday morning to score front row seats on the Esplanade for the scheduled evening performance, which was to feature Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Reynolds and a reading by Peter Jennings.
"I think they blow off more fireworks in a week in Boston than we do in the whole state of Idaho in a year," said Claudia Dambra, a Idaho resident.
In Philadelphia, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan was awarded the 2001 Philadelphia Liberty Medal, given to those who uphold the ideals of founding principles of the country.
"Liberty is not just a cause for celebration today, but also a worthy crusade for our time," he said.
In Indianapolis, Gustave "Gus" Streeter, a 104-year-old World War I veteran, was also honored. Lt. Gov. Joe Kernan awarded him the Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest honor the state bestows on an individual.
When asked how many more Fourth of Julys he would see in his lifetime, Streeter was optimistic.
"Oh, What the hell? Many," he said. "I love people, and I like people to love me too."
President Bush spent his first Fourth in office playing a little street football in Philadelphia. Then in the shadow of Independence Hall he invoked the legacy of religious freedom in calling for federal funds for those who run religious charities.
"America's founding documents give us religious liberty in principle," Mr. Bush said. "These Americans show us religious liberty in action."
The president and Mrs. Bush later returned to Washington in time to take a ringside seat to the fireworks over the National Mall.
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