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America Celebrates Independence Day

Across the United States, rural Americans joined those in small towns and large cities Thursday in celebrating the 237th anniversary of their country's independence with parades, picnics, fireworks, rodeos and concerts.

In New York, the Statue of Liberty -- the national symbol of freedom -- reopened after eight months of hurricane repairs. Hundreds stood in long lines to be among the first to board boats to tour the statue on a five-hectare island in New York harbor.

To the north, residents in and around Boston braved stifling heat and tight security to mingle in the first large public gatherings since the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and wounded hundreds more in April. Revelers -- many of them bedecked in the national colors of red, white and blue -- were staking claims by early afternoon to patches of turf to view the annual Boston Pops outdoor evening concert.

In a July 4 address, President Barack Obama urged Americans to live up to the words of the Declaration of Independence.



He said in "1776, a small band of patriots declared that we were a people created equal - free to think and worship and live as we please. It was a declaration heard around the world."

Elsewhere in the capital city, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services launched a weeklong series of naturalization ceremonies to award citizenship to nearly 8,000 immigrants.

In the Arizona town that is the home of 19 elite firefighters killed Sunday while fighting wildfires, the holiday fireworks were set to continue, despite scorching hot conditions and the still-burning fires. The community's mantra for days has been ``celebration, not grief.''

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Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
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Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
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