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Have a safe, memorable July 4th weekend

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July 4th, our Independence Day, is a unique holiday for celebrating the birthday of our nation. It is also one holiday that Congress does not mess with. Thank goodness.

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On July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies of America proclaimed their independence day from their mother country, England. John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence first "with a great flourish," making it large enough for England's "King George to read that without spectacles!"

Now 238 years later, America has evolved into the leading defender of independence and freedom around the world.

The Fourth of July holiday weekend is a great opportunity to reunite with family and friends and celebrate our nation's independence.

It is also a time to practice safety at home and cabins, on the road and around the waterways.

Traffic has already started along Minnesota's many highways. Traffic has increased to heavy levels as everyone heads out for their favorite vacation spot. So be aware, drive cautiously and make sure you arrive at your destination safely.

The Fourth of July also brings an American tradition of fireworks that is both colorful, loud and dangerous. Every year there are deaths and injuries across Minnesota due to fireworks. Injuries from fireworks only take seconds to occur, but often cause disability and disfigurement for a lifetime. Be safe, keep fireworks away from kids and leave the big fireworks to the experts.

This holiday is often a highlight of the summer across Minnesota's many lakes and rivers. This is a good time to practice safe water habits, including putting on a life jacket whenever on or near water. This is especially true with children.

The Fourth of July is time to reflect upon our American independence, which allows each of us to celebrate as we see fit. That is what freedom is all about.

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