12 vintage Fourth of July photos remind you why this country's so darn great.

Ah, the Fourth of July: the day Earth gave birth to the United States of America.

If Americans have been good at doing one thing throughout the past 240 years, it's been throwing amazing birthday bashes for the place we call home.

Just check out these 12 vintage pics that prove that point nicely:


1. We've rocked sparklers in high heels like champs.

Photo, taken in 1932, by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images.

2. We've created our own patriotic boy bands to commemorate the occasion.

Photo taken in 1940 by Bert Garai/Keystone View/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Watch out, One Direction.

3. Sometimes, we've taken breathers in the summer sun too. (It is a holiday, after all.)

Photo taken in 1957 by Terry Fincher/Keystone/Getty Images.

4. And other times, we've thrown big neighborhood picnics.

Because food + sunshine = pure bliss.

These South Carolinians did it right back in 1939. Image from The New York Public Library.

5. Some of us have been gracious enough to celebrate our independence with prominent foreign figures — even if they used to be our enemies.

U.S. Ambassador Lewis Douglas enjoyed a chat with the First Lady of London at a Fourth of July party in 1951. Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

U-S-A! U-S-A!

6. But we haven't always been gracious enough to forgive our parents for forcing us into those George Washington costumes.

Photo taken in 1955 by Evans/Three Lions/Getty Images.

7. We've always made sure to clean up nicely for the big day.

Photo taken in 1955 by Evans/Three Lions/Getty Images.

8. Because the Fourth is a pretty huge deal. Listen to the folks in Lititz, Pennsylvania — they'll tell you.

Photo taken in 1955 by Evans/Three Lions/Getty Images.

9. In Lititz, sparklers have always been a favorite throughout the years...

Photo by Keystone View/FPG/Getty Images.

10. But they're not the only things lighting up the night sky.

Each year, people in Lititz light thousands of candles to celebrate our country's independence — a local tradition that's been going strong since 1843.

Photo taken in 1955 by Evans/Three Lions/Getty Images.

11. The town also throws a Queen of Candles pageant, which still carries on today.

Photo taken in 1955 by Evans/Three Lions/Getty Images.

The people of Lititz are one patriotic bunch.

12. So this Fourth of July, let's continuing honoring this fantastic country in the best ways we know how...

Photo taken in 1955 by Evans/Three Lions/Getty Images.

But we should also remember why and what we're celebrating in the first place.

America's collective drive to "form a more perfect union" is baked right into our DNA. And that's pretty cool.

I mean, there were a number of troubling things about the U.S. back in 1776.

Like the fact women were still 144 years away from obtaining the right to vote, and the old white guys who drafted the Declaration of Independence actually nixed an anti-slavery provision in the process. Just to name a couple.

But remembering our unfortunate past shouldn't ruin our perception of the place we call home — it should speak to its greatness.

America is where Martin Luther King Jr. walked the walk. It's where Harvey Milk gave us hope. It's where Gloria Steinem demanded more of us.

And it's where countless others will soon change the world too.

This Fourth of July, take a moment to remember our past and imagine our future — because I, like many other Americans, think our best days still lie ahead.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.