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

'Merica.

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.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

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The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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