TODAY   |  July 05, 2013

July 4 celebrations, from Big Apple to Big Easy

In honor of Independence Day yesterday, spectators turned out in droves at firework-filled celebrations in cities across the country, marking 237 years of independence. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>>> about accidents on the 4th of july but for most americans thankfully the holiday celebrations were fun and patriotic. kristen well kristen welker is at the white house . good morning.

>> good morning. president obama heads to camp david later today after he and the rest of the nation threw a huge birthday party . fit only for the 4th of july .

>> a festival of lights from the big apple to the big easy and the nation's capitol. the country marking 237 years of independence. for barbara and miles, a world war ii veteran that visited washington d.c. for the first time on thursday, this holiday held special meaning .

>> it was great.

>> i thank god that we were able to be here on a day of freedom.

>> in boston, another hero, officer richard donahue who was injured while bringing the marathon bombers to justice, lead in celebrating the strength of the city.

>> meanwhile, the biggest names in music rocked the city of brotherly love . [ music playing ]

>> and the national mall . good times never seemed so good

>> at the white house , the president and first lady hosted 1200 service members.

>> on behalf of all americans i want to say thank you.

>> reporter: in addition to the usual parades and pomp, there were a few firsts. at thursday's national game the chairman of the joint chiefs of staffs wowed the home crowd in d.c. with his rendition of the national anthem . for some it was a day to become an american with naturalization cermonies taking place from mt. vernon to afghanistan. all a part of a bigger celebration of the country and each other. now this 4th of july really was unique because it came in the wake of the boston marathon so a number of cities including boston paid tribute to the survivors and first responders, including here at washington d.c.

>>> kristen welker, thanks. how about