Americans throughout the United States and the world have
been celebrating their nation's Independence on the 4th of July
for 232 years now, since 1776 when the 13 colonies declared independence from
The traditional Independence Day celebration has always been
associated with outdoor concerts, parades, picnics, and most significant of all,
fireworks that shoot up to the sky that brighten a whole city to the delights
of children and adults alike.
Other communities around the United States also honor and pay
tribute to their new home
on America's Independence Day. Laotian-Americans of
the greater Washington D.C. Metropolitan area gathered on the grounds of Wat Lao
Buddhavong or the Lao Temple in Catlett, Virginia, on Friday and Saturday, July 4th
and 5th, to celebrate this auspicious occasion as they do every
But for Lao-Americans, July 4th is not only a celebration of
America's birthday, but it is also an occasion for Buddhist rituals, giving alms to monks and making merits, and for families and friends who travel from as far as Canada and
Alaska to reunite with their relatives and to visit the nation's capital.
The two-day event did not differ much from the
previous years. There were Buddhist rituals in the morning for
religious-minded participants. For entertainment, there were traditional dance
performances as well as outdoor concerts featuring both Lao singers and Thai
artists from abroad. Other outdoor activities included
soccer, volleyball and games for children. There were plenty of Lao foods for
those who enjoy eating and sampling exotic foods.
July 4th is also a day to welcome new Americans.
A large group
of naturalized citizens gathered this year to take their oaths at
Monticello, VA, the home of Thomas Jefferson, America's third president, where
President George W. Bush welcomed them.
"A journey has taken
you from many different countries and now made you one people. From this day
forward the history of the United States will be part of your heritage; the
fourth of July will be part of your Independence Day. And I will be honored to
call you a fellow American," said President Bush.
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