The idea of the Stars and Stripes flag fluttering in Washington on the Fourth of July may not sound unusual, but yesterday the Star-Spangled Banner was also flying over Washington, Wearside.

Washington was the ancestral home of the first American president George Washington (1732-1799) and yesterday (4th July) the mayor and mayoress of Sunderland – Cllr David Snowdon and Cllr Dianne Snowdon – greeted guests from both the US and UK.

The theme of Sunderland’s Fourth of July celebrations this year was ‘Welcome’ and a civic welcome was given to some special American guests – the governor of the Society of Mayflower Descendants, Dr Carla Rigby, and associate of the Mayflower Society, Albert Grady.

The American guests helped raise the flag at Sunderland’s Fourth of July celebrations. They also joined representatives of the Friends of Washington Old Hall and the National Trust and other visitors in singing the US national anthem as part of the flag-raising ceremony.

The ceremony took place in Washington Old Hall’s ornamental gardens. Also present were pupils from four local schools: Washington Academy, JFK Primary, George Washington Primary and Broadway Juniors.

The house and grounds of Washington Old Hall are cared for by the National Trust.

Cllr David Snowdon said, “The annual Fourth of July celebrations are an annual reminder of Sunderland’s close economic and cultural ties with America and its capital city, and our Friendship Agreement with Washington DC.”

“As Mayor, I was proud to represent the people of Sunderland at this year’s event, as we celebrate our special relationship with the United States. It is an excellent time to reflect on the opportunities we can create through our international engagement.”

The National Trust’s operations manager at Washington Old Hall, Sarah Murray, said, “Washington Old Hall is the original medieval home of George Washington’s direct ancestors, so every year we enjoy celebrating the Fourth of July, welcoming friends and supporters from near and far.”

“Commemorating the Fourth of July is a tradition started in the 1930s by Fred Hill, the local school master who saved Washington Old Hall.”

“Fred was an outstanding advocate for Anglo-American friendship, and the annual celebrations are a great opportunity to celebrate friendship and explore universal themes of liberty and equality.”

“One of the annual highlights is songs, plays and sketches performed by young people from local schools, based on Washington’s history and the themes of independence.”

(Featured image courtesy of Mike Mozart from Flickr Creative Commons)





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