U.S. Independence Day: Celebrating Freedom and Democracy

Posted by: U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt

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Celebrating U.S. Independence Day in Ukraine, July 2, 2015
Celebrating U.S. Independence Day in Ukraine, July 2, 2015

Last week, the United States marked the 239th anniversary of its independence – and I was lucky enough to celebrate the Fourth of July not once, but twice!   First, on July 2 – the day the Second Continental Congress voted for independence in 1776 – I was delighted to welcome a broad range of luminaries from Ukrainian government, civil society, and business to my home for the Embassy’s annual Independence Day reception.

Celebrating U.S. Independence Day in Ukraine, July 2, 2015
Celebrating U.S. Independence Day in Ukraine, July 2, 2015

Our Marine Security Guards presented the colors in their best dress, visiting members of the U.S. Army Choir sang a moving rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, and Ruslana rocked the Ukrainian national anthem like no one else can.  It was a great opportunity to visit with friends and colleagues, enjoy a taste of home, and celebrate the core values the United States and Ukraine share.  Plus, I got to wear the really great American flag vyshyvanka that was given to me as a gift by our friends at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Celebrating U.S. Independence Day in Ukraine, July 2, 2015
Celebrating U.S. Independence Day in Ukraine, July 2, 2015

On Saturday, the actual Fourth of July, I joined the American Chamber of Commerce for its annual Independence Day Picnic at the Kyiv International School – another fun event with great company, food, and music by our Embassy band, Duck and Cover.

Celebrating U.S. Independence Day in Ukraine, July 2, 2015
Celebrating U.S. Independence Day in Ukraine, July 2, 2015

The Fourth of July has always been my favorite American holiday. Beyond the fireworks, the barbecuing, and the beer, it’s fundamentally about democracy, rule of law, and the principles of freedom. For the early United States, this was no easy road.  In our own Revolution, we had to fight for these principles through hard times, times when democracy seemed like it might be a failed experiment.  At a time when Ukraine is challenged as never before, our Independence Day was a time to look ahead to what Ukraine stands to gain at the end of its own hard road: the self-determination and true democracy that was the central demand of those who stood on the Maidan.

I’m excited to see what the future holds as we work together to accomplish these shared goals. The United States is proud to be a partner as both we and Ukraine strive to perfect our democracies, and we are grateful to have the chance to share this holiday with the people of Ukraine.

More photos

Remarks by Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt at a Reception Celebrating U.S. Independence Day


The Fourth of July 2013

Source: http://gurukul.american.edu/heintze/postcards.htm

Source: www.census.gov

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On this day in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 American colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. As always, this most American of holidays will be marked by parades, fireworks and backyard barbecues across the country.

How Do We Know?

As we celebrate this Independence Day, we reflect on how the U.S. Founding Fathers enshrined the importance of statistics in our Constitution as a vital tool for measuring our people, places and economy. Since 1790, the U.S. Census has been much more than a simple head count; it has charted the growth and composition of the nation. The questions have evolved over time to address our changing needs. Today, the Decennial Census, the Economic Census and the American Community Survey give Congress and community leaders the information they need to make informed decisions that shape the U.S. democracy. These statistics are how we know how our country is doing.

The U.S. Census Bureau has launched more infographics and interactive features that provide a look at “How Do We Know?

2.5 million

In July 1776, the estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation.
Source: Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970 

316.1 million

The nation’s estimated population on this July Fourth.
Source: Population clock 


$3.6 million

In 2011, the dollar value of U.S. imports of American flags. The vast majority of this amount ($3.3 million) was for U.S. flags made in China.
Source: Foreign Trade Statistics


Dollar value of U.S. flags exported in 2011. Mexico was the leading customer, purchasing $80,349 worth.
Source: Foreign Trade Statistics

$302.7 million

Dollar value of shipments of fabricated flags, banners and similar emblems by the nation’s manufacturers in 2007, according to the latest published economic census statistics.
Source: 2007 Economic Census, Series EC0731SP1, Products and Services Code 3149998231 


$223.6 million

The value of fireworks imported from China in 2011, representing the bulk of all U.S. fireworks imported ($232.5 million). U.S. exports of fireworks, by comparison, came to just $15.8 million in 2011, with Australia purchasing more than any other country ($4.5 million).

$231.8 million

The value of U.S. manufacturers’ shipments of fireworks and pyrotechnics (including flares, igniters, etc.) in 2007.
Source: 2007 Economic Census, Series EC0731SP1, Products and Services Code 325998J108 

Patriotic-Sounding Place Names

Thirty-one places have “liberty” in their names. The most populous one as of April 1, 2010, was Liberty, Mo. (29,149). Iowa, with four, has more of these places than any other state: Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty and West Liberty.

Thirty-five places have “eagle” in their names. The most populous one is Eagle Pass, Texas, with a population of 26,248.

Eleven places have “independence” in their names. The most populous one is Independence, Mo., with a population of 116,830.

Nine places have “freedom” in their names. The most populous one is New Freedom, Pa., with a population of 4,464.

One place has “patriot” in its name. Patriot, Ind., has a population of 209.

Five places have “America” in their names. The most populous is American Fork, Utah, with a population of 26,263.

Source: American FactFinder

Early Presidential Last Names


Ranking of the frequency of the surname of our first president, George Washington, among all last names tabulated in the 2000 Census. Other early presidential names that appear on the list, along with their ranking, were Adams (39), Jefferson (594), Madison (1,209) and Monroe (567).
Source: Census 2000 Genealogy 

The British are Coming!

$107.1 billion

Dollar value of trade last year between the United States and the United Kingdom, making the British, our adversary in 1776, our sixth-leading trading partner today.
Source: Foreign Trade Statistics 

Fourth of July Cookouts

Almost 1 in 3

The chance that the hot dogs and pork sausages consumed on the Fourth of July originated in Iowa. The Hawkeye State was home to 19.7 million hogs and pigs on March 1, 2012. This estimate represents almost one-third of the nation’s estimated total. North Carolina (8.6 million) and Minnesota (7.6 million) were also homes to large numbers of pigs.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

7.2 billion pounds

Total production of cattle and calves in Texas in 2011. Chances are good that the beef hot dogs, steaks and burgers on your backyard grill came from the Lone Star State, which accounted for about one-sixth of the nation’s total production. And if the beef did not come from Texas, it very well may have come from Nebraska (4.6 billion pounds) or Kansas (4.0 billion pounds).
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service 


Number of states in which the value of broiler chicken production was estimated at $1 billion or greater between December 2010 and November 2011. There is a good chance that one of these states — Georgia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi or Texas — is the source of your barbecued chicken.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service 

Please Pass the Potato

Potato salad and potato chips are popular food items at Fourth of July barbecues. Approximately half of the nation’s spuds were produced in Idaho or Washington state in 2011.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service 

Fourth of July – Even Strangers are Feeling Pride for America

Posted by: Olena Maryenko, 1998 FLEX Program Alumna
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Photo: http://dc.about.com/od/hoildaysseasonalevents/ss/July4th.htm

My first 4th of July celebration I marked in Washington D.C. with all its festivities, grandness, and thousands of people who came to participate and observe. The parade on Constitution Avenue was a picturesque kaleidoscope of American history and American heroes. All participants were dressed up in costumes to represent various important events in U.S. history, and in between the historical personas high school music bands and orchestras entertained the crowd. Thousands of tourists with cameras, alongside TV journalists, were filming the procession. The parade started at Capitol Hill and continued to the White House, thus representing the importance of two major pillars of U.S. Independence. Like everything else in the American capital – the parade was well organized, supported by dozens of police officers, rescue and ambulance teams.

Photo: http://www.examiner.com/article/fun-4th-of-july-events-for-the-gay-community-d-cI spent my second 4th of July celebration in Annapolis, a little Maryland town just outside of D.C. This one was totally different, but at the same time quite an entertaining experience. The city of Annapolis’s parade was a true tribute to city heroes and city residents. The police chief, fire brigade, city mayor, zumba class for senior citizens, and high school dancing group were all marching down the main city street dancing, playing music and giving out sweet treats to little observers. The atmosphere of joy and festivities was definitely welcoming and cheerful. The parade continued on to the yacht club, where everyone could enjoy a beautiful water view. Later in the evening under the sunset light, the Marine Academy orchestra was in full swing. People were laughing, dancing, eating ice cream or simply enjoying the beautiful melodies under the darkening skies…it was hard not to fall under the 4th of July celebration spell. I fully immersed myself into the spirit and shared the tremendous pride and joy that Americans have for their country and fellow countrymen. It’s impossible to describe how different people, often total strangers, are unified by a strong feeling of pride for America, American people and American Independence.


Celebrating Independence Day in the USA and the Lessons I Learned

Posted by: Ruslan Furtas, 2011 Muskie Program Alumnus (Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship Program)

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Coming from a country with a Soviet history, I grew up with national holidays being marked by soldiers marching, tanks rolling, and military muscles flexing.  During these parades, the celebrations seemed more like choreography and even the sports clubs’ performances felt forced.  It seemed to me that some of these organizations existed only to participate in such events. The holiday seemed to be made by state officials for higher state officials.

I observed similar parades in the United States as well, but I was surprised to discover one difference – the holiday is celebrated by the people, not just the state. This particular Independence Day began as an all day party at a beach in San Diego and included grilling on an industrial scale followed by burger consuming on similar par while storytelling and arguing whose role was more important in winning World War II and who played the key role in the Soviet Union’s collapse, all which culminated in fireworks – the good kind.  With the first whistling light, rocketing into the night sky, everyone on the beach stood up, every boat in the harbor and every car on the roads stopped to watch the scene. As the multitude of independence displays broke out along the beach and in the neighborhoods throughout the city, framed by the city’s own spectacular backdrop, I could hear the spontaneous hooting, clapping, and chanting and even found myself donning the nearest cowboy hat and joining the crowd in hollering, “America! Hell yeah!” Sadly, I was so excited that I dropped probably the best burger I ever had in my life.

My group on the beach actually included more foreigners than natives, but that night everyone was proud to be an American.  Because you can read, you can study, you can take polls and surveys, but an opportunity like the Fourth is a chance to feel on many levels that America is first and foremost an idea, a way of life, and an unusual perspective on the world that has made our planet a better place.

That day in San Diego was the first time I realized that in a country with more minorities than most could even imagine, it is possible for millions to be united by an idea that isn’t about one race or one religion or even one language, but about celebrating the freedom to be different, yet also reveling in the choice to come together.

I had never seen something before like that in my life. But in a lot of ways the 4th of July was merely a more extravagant way of expressing the day-to-day attitudes I saw displayed the next day at the airport.  While waiting in line, I saw an elderly man come over to a young soldier and shake his hand, and with his hand on his shoulder he simply said, “Thank you for your service, son.”  The sincere exchange made me realize that a country’s greatness cannot simply be measured by military muscle, but must be appreciated by the respect freely given from the people to institutions like the military.

I guess to sum it all up, there is a difference between drinking to forget a past that dictates a bleak future, and drinking to celebrate a future made possible by the past.

Independence Day, Hawaiian Style!

Posted by: U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John F. Tefft

Ambassador Tefft and Mrs. Tefft greet former President of Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk

Last Wednesday, Mariella and I had the honor to welcome over 600 Ukrainian guests to our residence for our annual Independence Day celebration. By the way, please click here to see our newly-produced brochure about the historic residence.

U.S. Marines ceremony “Post the Colors”

Keeping with our Hawaiian theme, we had a brief rain shower but the extended sun and the warmth of our guests helped maintain the good cheer throughout the celebration. We were grateful to have talented students from the Glier Kyiv Institute of Music sing the Ukrainian and American national anthems before the U.S. Marines posted the colors.

I then spoke to the audience. Here is an excerpt from my remarks:

Ambassador Tefft speaks to the audience

“Today we celebrate our independence and freedom. Today Americans pause and remember all those who have given so much to make the United States the nation that it is today. And we especially remember today all those Americans — military and civilian — who are protecting our freedom, often in dangerous places. Continue reading “Independence Day, Hawaiian Style!”