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Americans Celebrate Independence Day

President Bush is calling on Americans to be patient, as the U.S. troop buildup takes effect in Iraq. Mr. Bush spoke at an Independence Day event in the state of West Virginia -- as Americans across the country celebrated the July 4th [Independence Day] holiday. VOA White House Correspondent Paula Wolfson has more.

Americans celebrated the Fourth of July with parades, fireworks and a sense of caution.

Just days after attempted car bombings in Britain, security was tight in major U.S. cities where large crowds gathered for the holiday.

At an appearance before military personnel and their families, President Bush spoke of the importance of meeting the terrorist threat, both at home and abroad.

"In the war against radicals and extremists, in this war on terror, you are showing that the courage that won our independence more than two centuries ago is alive and well here in West Virginia," said Mr. Bush in his speech.

The president defended his Iraq policy and urged Americans to be patient as additional U.S. forces join a troop surge.

"We must succeed for our own sake. For the security of our citizens, we must support our troops. We must support the Iraqi government and we must defeat al-Qaida in Iraq."

The president returned by mid-day to a Washington already packed with holiday visitors.

They gathered under unusually tight security. Those hoping for a prime spot to view the fireworks passed through security checkpoints that ringed the vast lawn between the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument.

"It's kind of funny (strange) because I think the intent of the terrorists was to remove and scare us,” said one citizen at a checkpoint. “But if you look around, I don't see, to be honest, I don't see any fewer people. I don't see people walking around afraid."

This July Fourth marked the passing of 231 years since the U.S. declared its independence from Britain. And in Washington and elsewhere, Americans joined in one big national birthday party.