Although New York was the last colony to declare independence -- New York didn't cast its vote until July 9th -- Independence Day has always had special significance in our city.
New York City was actually the capital of the United States from January, 1785 until 1790, and the center of national Independence Day celebrations. And it was on July 4th, 1884 that our city received the Statue of Liberty as a gift from France.
To this day, I don't think any community, anywhere in the country enjoys the 4th of July the way New Yorkers do. From the nation's biggest fire works display, to the wonderful parades -- like the ones I attend every year in Bay Ridge and Staten Island -- to the thousands of family barbecues and roof parties, our city is full of the spirit of patriotism, community and family that makes the 4th of July America's greatest celebration.
But too often in the past, a very, very small percentage of people have been allowed to endanger the public at large through lawless and reckless behavior. This year to ensure that all of our citizens had the opportunity to enjoy their holiday peacefully and safely, New York City launched the most intensive illegal fireworks initiatives in city history.
Thanks to the hard work of the Police Department, the Fire Department, and many associated agencies and departments, we confiscated more than 9,500 cases of illegal fireworks and made more than 500 arrests.
As a result, during this year's holiday, we saw a decrease in fireworks related fires of nearly 70 percent, and we know of only one incident of a serious fireworks related injury. Also, in fact, one injury too many. Next year we'll try to do even better.
All Americans are blessed to live in the greatest country that the world has ever known. We enjoy privileges and freedoms that exemplify the zenith of human civilization.
And while each of us has the right to celebrate the birth of our nation in his, or her own way, no one has the right to endanger the lives or safety of others. This year we enjoyed a safe July 4th celebration and in observing the laws and the rights of others, New Yorkers displayed a true patriotism, and a true appreciation for what it means to be an American.
Let's all work to keep that spirit of mutual respect and love of country alive, not just on Independence Day, but year round in the City of New York.
From Gracie Mansion this is Rudy Giuliani.