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 Britain.
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 year.
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.
Click on our audio files to hear the whole report in Lao.