Even as America celebrated its independence, another mass shooting provided a stark reminder of the challenges the nation faces in balancing its centuries-old constitution with the realities of the modern age and modern weapons.
Apart from high-powered weaponry, another thing that the founding fathers could not have conceived was the massive reach of the internet.
Today, one of its titans provided a colourful but sobering example of how fractured the American republic has become.
As is its custom, Google today provided a cute effect for anyone searching for "Fourth of July" content in the US, meaning that users were treated to an animated fireworks display, including a US flag.
Tragically, this came as at least six people were killed at a Fourth of July parade in Chicago, when a mass shooter reportedly picked out children in the crowd as they marched past, celebrating their freedom.
Anyone searching for the phrase was confronted by the juxtaposition of grim headlines updating death tolls and the dancing pixels of the animated fireworks.
Twitter users said the error further proved that the US was a "dystopia".
"Great example of what celebrating America is all about," one user noted.
"Hope everyone can survive their festivities this holiday."
Others darkly joked that it showcased "American Exceptionalism" and said it was "depressingly on-brand".
Police have arrested the gunman who opened fire on the Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago killing at least six people, wounding at least 30 and sending hundreds of marchers, parents with strollers and children on bicycles fleeing in terror, police said.
Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen earlier said police have identified Robert E Crimo III, 22, as a person of interest and cautioned he should be considered armed and dangerous. Police declined to answer questions about how they identified Crimo. Authorities described his car as a silver Honda Fit with an Illinois licence plate DM 80653.
The July 4 shooting was just the latest to shatter the rituals of American life. Schools, churches, grocery stores and now community parades have all become killing grounds in recent months. This time, the bloodshed came as the nation tried to find cause to celebrate its founding and the bonds that still hold it together.
Mayor Nancy Rotering said the violence "has shaken us to our core", adding: "On a day that we came together to celebrate community and freedom, we are instead mourning the tragic loss of life and struggling with the terror that was brought upon us."
- Additional reporting, AP