- The Washington Times - Friday, July 4, 2003

BERLIN — From occupied Iraq to the capitals of antiwar France and Germany, Americans pushed aside worries about conflicts and terror around the globe to celebrate Independence Day.

Security concerns and lingering anti-American sentiment had threatened to put a damper on the July Fourth fireworks in some countries, but parties yesterday were as swinging as usual.

American troops in Iraq held barbecues at U.S. bases, even as a spate of clashes with insurgents killed another U.S. soldier and injured 18 others.

A few were invited to join Arnold Schwarzenegger for a screening at Baghdad International Airport of the actor’s latest movie, “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.”

The tone was lighter in Europe, where the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican held his annual July Fourth party Thursday night at his villa on the Janiculum Hill, a packed affair attended by hundreds.

A band blasted American tunes as the guests, among them Vatican cardinals, munched hot dogs and hamburgers. Two men on horseback provided a Wild West theme.

In Geneva, the U.S. mission to the United Nations relaxed some of its usually strict security to throw a garden party yesterday for more than 1,000 diplomats and dignitaries. Invitees who would normally have to go through X-ray machines and leave their mobile phones at the entrance were granted entry with ease.

The American International Club of Geneva, which has held a separate party every year since 1952, prepared for 35,000 guests — one of the biggest parties in Europe.

“Attendance of Americans and non-Americans tends to go up and down depending on lots of factors,” chief organizer Pierre Imfeld told Swiss Radio International. “I’m not sure whether the political situation is going to change anything.”

In France, where the government’s opposition to the Iraq war chilled relations with the United States, citizen groups and tour promoters sought to repair frayed ties and revive slumping U.S. tourism.

More than 100 Paris hotels, restaurants and other establishments reached out to American guests, offering free champagne or barbecuing, the Paris tourist office said.

A grass-roots initiative led by World War II veterans, educational and French-American groups began placing nearly 70,000 roses on memorials and tombs to honor U.S. soldiers who fought in France during two world wars.

In Germany, which closed ranks with Paris against the Iraq invasion, there were no signs of July Fourth festivities being toned down.

The U.S. Embassy is Berlin was expecting 3,000 guests, hundreds more than usual, for food, drinks and fireworks at a reception at the city’s Wannsee Lake.

In Denmark, 3,000 people, Danes and Danish-Americans, gathered for the annual Rebild Festival, which was started 91 years ago by Danish immigrants in the United States who wanted an event to meet relatives and fellow immigrants.

Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller praised the principles of the Declaration of Independence, saying terrorism is a new challenge to them.

“It is our common duty to defend them and provide new guards for their future security,” he said. “If we stand together, we can make the world a better place to live in. Divided, we may fail and fall.”

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