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The Real Cost of Celebrating July 4th

By Lewis Braham and Nikhil Hutheesing - 2013-06-28T15:04:23Z

Photograph by Ron Chapple/Getty Images

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Freedom's Price

We spend far more every year on fireworks and beer than our fledgling government's entire $101 million war chest during the American Revolution. In 1776, the cost was measured more in lives than in money: Some 25,000 revolutionaries and 27,000 British and German soldiers died. And that was just the start. Our Declaration of Independence soon inspired the French Revolution as well as abolitionists and suffragists to sacrifice themselves for equality.

Now we spend billions to celebrate July 4 every year. Finding the money for all the pyrotechnics and parties is getting tougher for some cities. In Washington, D.C., a traditional concert that takes place in a bandshell on the grounds of the Washington Monument won't happen this year, a victim of budget cuts. And Seattle's celebration was almost canceled when donations fell short; Microsoft, and others came to the rescue.