- The Washington Times - Friday, July 5, 2002

LONDON Wary but determined, Americans around the globe marked Independence Day yesterday with barbecues, sports and parties despite warnings that large gatherings could become targets for terrorists.
While some routine American parties were canceled, many overseas events went ahead, although with heightened security. At the Vatican, Roman Catholic cardinals and international envoys walked through metal detectors before munching hot dogs in the garden of the U.S. ambassador's residence.
In the Australian capital, Canberra, mounted police patrolled outside the U.S. ambassador's house, while inside 1,100 Australians and Americans ate chili dogs and apple pie to the strains of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A."
Parties were canceled by the U.S. Embassy in the West African nation of Ivory Coast, the American Business Council in Kuwait and the American International School in Vienna, Austria. In Sweden, the annual summer American Festival changed its name to Stockholm Summer Festival.
In Paris, where the American Club has celebrated the Fourth of July with picnics, lavish parties and cruises on the Seine river, the holiday was marked this year with a simple cocktail party at a private club.
But the U.S. military's 6th Area Support Group in Germany went ahead with its annual rodeo and festival, and American peacekeepers in Kosovo played softball, basketball and volleyball. U.S. officials in Dublin put on a big bash to thank the Irish for their support after the September 11 attacks, inviting 2,500 guests to the ambassador's home.
Many Americans kept a low profile in the Middle East, where anti-American feeling runs high because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But American soldiers and sailors at several Persian Gulf bases celebrated, and U.S. embassies held receptions.
At the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet base in Bahrain, many sailors got a break from work. "We miss home, but we are celebrating in our own special way," said Lt. Chris Davis, a spokesman for the 5th Fleet who was on his way to a private barbecue.
In Manila, about 2,000 people waving small U.S. flags marched to the U.S. Embassy, chanting "Long live America." Across the street, opponents to the presence of U.S. soldiers who are training Philippine troops battling Muslim guerrillas in the south shouted "Puppet, Puppet" at the marchers.
Among the most poignant celebrations were those at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan. Security around the base, headquarters for about 7,000 U.S. soldiers, was tightened, but a holiday atmosphere reigned inside.
Dozens of American flags fluttered amid the rows of green tents at the dusty, wind-swept base north of Kabul. Some soldiers used sandbags to support makeshift soccer goals near a hangar, while others played basketball on a helicopter pad flanked by U.S. AC-10 gunships and decaying Soviet MiG fighters.
Some soldiers found the holiday especially symbolic because the United States helped free Afghanistan from the repressive rule of the Taliban.
"If you're going to celebrate Independence Day, it's good to do it when you're helping another country get its independence," said Staff Sgt. Rhonda Lawson of New Orleans. "But I'd rather be at a music festival in New Orleans."

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide