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.

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Comment Sorting
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

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