News / USA

    Obama Honors Troops on Independence Day

    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama applaud during a Fourth of July celebration on the South Lawn of the White House, July 4, 2013.
    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama applaud during a Fourth of July celebration on the South Lawn of the White House, July 4, 2013.
    Kent Klein
    Americans celebrated their nation's 237th anniversary Thursday with parades, picnics, concerts and baseball games. President Barack Obama observed the holiday by honoring members of the U.S. military at the White House.

    The president and first lady Michelle Obama hosted a barbecue and concert for more than 1,200 service members and their families. Afterward, they were treated to a concert by a Marine Band and the Grammy award-winning band FUN.
     

    Obama thanked those he called "military heroes" for upholding American values around the world.

    "People in scattered corners of the world are living in peace today, free to write their own futures, because of you," said President Obama.

    The president recalled the bravery of what he termed "a small band of patriots" who declared America's independence in 1776, pledging their "lives...fortunes and...sacred honor." He paid tribute to "this improbable experiment in democracy" and its commitment to peace and freedom.

    "And what makes us great is not our size or our wealth but our values and our ideals and the fact that we are willing to fight for them," said Obama.
     

    A short distance away, tens of thousands gathered on Washington's National Mall for a concert and a huge fireworks display visible over much of the city.
     

    A similar crowd gathered in Boston, Massachusetts for the traditional concert by the Boston Pops. Security was tight for the city's first major public event since the Boston Marathon bombings in April, in which three people were killed and hundreds wounded.
     


     


    One of the nation's most prominent celebrations was in New York City, where the Statue of Liberty reopened, eight months after being damaged in a hurricane.

    At the ceremony, the city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, reflected on the statue's significance to generations of immigrants arriving in New York.

    "Lady Liberty, whose welcome to all is "to all who yearn to breathe free" is just, I think, like the Fourth of July. It's at the heart of what America really is all about," he said.

    Protests against government surveillance were held in a number of U.S. cities.  Activists spoke against recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been secretly tracking phone calls and Internet activity.

    Thursday also marked the first day of a weeklong series of naturalization ceremonies, in which almost 8,000 immigrants became U.S. citizens.

    • Audience members join arms as the Boston Pops play "God Bless America" during their Fourth of July Concert at the Hatch Shell in Boston, July 4, 2013
    • Independence Day fireworks light the sky over Washington, July 4, 2013.
    • Fireworks light up the Empire State Building along the Manhattan skyline during Macy's 37th Annual Fourth of July fireworks show, July 4, 2013, in New York.
    • Matthew Usher looks up at the clouds to check for rain as he waits for a concert to start as part of the Independence Day activities, July 4, 2013, in Nashville, Tennessee.
    • Fireworks explode over the Philadelphia Museum of Art during an Independence Day celebration, July 4, 2013, in Philadelphia.
    • Residents and visitors of Alexander's Lake sit out on their docks and in small boats as they watch neighborhood fireworks as they celebrate Independence Day, July 4, 2013, in Dayville, Connecticut.
    • Fireworks for Independence Day are seen on the New Jersey shore, July 3, 2013.
    • Fireworks light the sky over the U.S. Capitol, left, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial during Fourth of July celebrations in Washington, July 4, 2013.
    • Visitors to the Statue of Liberty disembark onto Liberty Island from the first ferry to leave Manhattan, July 4, 2013.
    • A girl poses as they visit the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island during its reopening to the public in New York, July 4, 2013. The Statue of Liberty closed in October during Superstorm Sandy.
    • President Barack Obama holds a baby as he greets members of the military and their families during a Fourth of July celebration on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, July 4, 2013.
    • A U.S. soldier cuts into a cake during Fourth of July celebrations at the Bagram airbase, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, July 4, 2013.
    • A family buys fireworks at a TNT Fireworks stand in Monterey Park, California, July 2, 2013.
    • Heavy traffic during the Fourth of July weekend backs up the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland, the main route from Washington, DC to beaches along the Delmarva Peninsula.
    • A U.S. flag, in the shape of the country, is unfurled in the outfield before a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park in Washington, July 4, 2013.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    July 07, 2013 11:09 PM
    I realized again after listenning to this Obama's adress that US is a country of freedom and actualization of dream. What I admire for US is that it has been accepted those ambitious people from around the world acknowledging something troublesome consequences may happen. And US people know freedom and prosperity could not be won without some sacrifices including losing lives in battle fields. I wonder if there emerges no country forever where liberty, equality, peace and prosperity are given with no such sacrifices. Thank you.

    by: ed from: brick nj
    July 04, 2013 10:51 PM
    There has never been as great and free nation in the history of the world than the awesome United States Of America. And if we keep our senses about us there never will be.

    by: Bernard O'Donnell from: Ireland
    July 04, 2013 5:04 PM
    A great day for the greatest country in the world. Where else in the world is anyone so free to think, do or say?
    Three cheers for the red, white and blue.

    by: William from: Argentina
    July 04, 2013 4:42 PM
    Happy birthday America, and all the American people. You are for each men, women a guidance light, of freedom, and a secure and pridely land where to live, a land into nobody can suffer opression, tyrany or the common rights not treads, A land to project, to live the foundational originally dream, right to express opinions, a land to be certain of the government, elected by free people really works for the all American and foreigners liviing on there, in freedom, prosperity and a quiet lives.Have a Very happy 237 anniversary and too many more, congratulations U.S.A.

    by: Cranksy from: USA
    July 04, 2013 1:53 PM
    What I am aware of liking about living in America is to be able to express my thoughts and feelings without fear. An example of this is: VOA has published what most Americans would consider unpatriotic comments of mine. I know very little about other countries, yet I am all but certain there are aspects of them I would prefer to my own country.

    by: Inocencio S. Santillan C. from: Huaraz Peru
    July 04, 2013 1:30 PM
    Iam i.santillan, Peru, the computer is controled, and a wesh agreat Independece day of United States of America, the land of the Democracy in the plane, tode VOA, workers, and TVMartiworkers to. A Perubi friends' thanks.

    by: Anonymous
    July 04, 2013 11:02 AM
    Gods bless world democracy and civilization

    by: Rumsay Veila
    July 04, 2013 10:02 AM
    Sincere congratulations to free and independent nation

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.