We all know - or at least should know - what July 4, Independence Day, means to our nation.
It is the day we celebrate our declaration of being a free nation, no longer under British rule, and began the fight for independence and the eventual creation of this nation.
It is our holiday. A time to look back on our shared history, to spend time with family and friends and, most importantly, celebrate all those things which make this country great.
Celebrations and observations will be held across the nation; from the mountains of our own Appalachian region to the boroughs of New York City, to the plains of the Midwest, across the Rockies and beyond.
Each town, each state, each region will celebrate in its own way, from massive fireworks displays, to community parades and picnics, to concerts and festivals, to races and much more.
I have several great memories of some of our local celebrations growing up. Watching and riding in parades, having family picnics, watching the fireworks up and down the river.
Many of our own towns are holding some sort of celebration, and I'm sure many of our residents will take some time to get out and enjoy some of the festivities.
Weirton, for example, will welcome the Wheeling Symphony on July 3 for its annual concert at the Weirton Event Center. The Independence Day Parade will be held on July 4 at 10 a.m. on Main Street.
Then, at 5 p.m., there will be a Band Blast contest, presented by Renaissance Weirton, at the Weirton Event Center, followed by a performance by Legend at the fireworks display, provided through the support of many local businesses and organizations.
Band Blast is a new event, being held this year in place of the community festival which had been a part of the city's Fourth of July observances for much of the last decade.
Wellsburg's week-long celebration already has gotten under way, with concerts at the city's Central Park beginning this past Friday and lasting through Thursday night.
On Saturday, there was a community yard sale, a 5K and several competitions.
Today will feature a community picnic, contests and an ecumenical service.
The highlight will be a visit by a memorial wall listing the names of 732 West Virginians who were killed, missing in action or taken prisoner of war during Vietnam.
There also will be the traditional oil can derby, which had been a landmark for the community for many years and recently was revived.
Up north, in Chester, residents will be able to take part in a 5K run on the morning of the 4th, a car show presented by the Chester Lions Club, various contests and a parade.
In addition, there will be a concert with performances by Todd Jones and headlined by country music act Confederate Railroad.
There are sure to be family picnics up and down the valley, kids waving sparklers in the air and possibly even a few backyard fireworks displays to follow up the big community events.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at email@example.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)