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July 4th: A virtual tour

July 3, 1997
Web posted at: 9:54 p.m. EDT (0154 GMT)

From CNN Interactive Writer David Mandeville

I haven't had the day off for July 4 in eight years. It's not the work I mind. It's my sense of national pride which makes me want to take a day to celebrate. That, and I miss all the good barbecues, fireworks, and pool parties.

Why, you ask, should you care? Because now I don't have to be left out and neither do you. We can experience July 4 vicariously by touring Independence Day sites on the web. I suggest we go north up the east coast, virtually at least, and begin our tour in Virginia.

Colonial Williamsburg

First visit at Colonial Williamsburg, the 18th century replica village. They're still fighting the American Revolution there.

They have a great section called "That's Revolting" which links to historical documents and resources about the politics and attitudes behind the colonies' decision to revolt against Britain. I recommend the text of Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech.

Before leaving Virginia, a stop at Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello, is a must. The site offers a "day in the life" perspective of the plantation. Read up on interesting facts about Jefferson and his family. Hey, who new they all played guitar? What's more, you can use the information on the site to plan a real trip. With a little advanced notice we could have put together a vacation to see retired Gen. Colin Powell at this year's July 4 festivities at the plantation.


In Washington, D.C., we'll visit the National Capital Parks page to pay out respects to some of the men and women who have made all the Independence Days possible. The site offers images and descriptions of the memorials and monuments to U.S. statesmen and soldiers in the district, including the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Next, we're off to LibertyNet's Historic Philadelphia, where we can checkout the Liberty Bell and Vally Forge or check out the Betsy Ross Homepage.

Best of all, we can wander through Bobby Jenkin's VRML model of Independence Hall. This is a great experience. You'll need plenty of RAM and Netscape's Live3D plug-in. LibertyNet recommends using Netscape 3.01 or better. A fast connection also helps, as it takes about 20 minutes for the full download and plug-in processing.

Historic Philadelphia

Now back to Washington, D.C., where we can spend evening enjoying the capital's fireworks show at TV onthe WEB. The site is working in conjunction with PSINet, VDOnet, and the National Park Service to stream a live video feed of the show. You'll need a copy of VDOLive Player plug-in to watch. The fireworks begin at 9:10 pm. EDT and last about 30 minutes.

We can finish with a quick stop by the White House. We can pet the cat and drop a line to the President before we head home.

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