Fourth of July celebrations in Brasilia finished with a bang and flash of fireworks and the rockets' red glare, but started with a commemoration of the long friendship between Brazil and the United States. The United States was the first country to recognize Brazilian independence, and American presidents have visited Brazil since the early 20th century. The Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy created an exhibit documenting the visits of American presidents to Brazil. Our exhibits featured photos of Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, as well as the recent successful visit by President Barack Obama.
I was lucky enough to hear a personal history from an elderly engineer who told me he arrived in Brasilia three years before the city was officially founded. He was proud of the part he had played in constructing the city. He told me about the visit of President Eisenhower in 1960 to the new Brasilia and how important it was to then Brazilian president Juscelino Kubitschek and the Brazilian people to know that the American president could see their dream of a new city and a new Brazil.
Much has changed during the long life of the man with whom I spoke. Brasilia has been transformed from an aspiration to a vital city, a center for a great country. What remains unchanged is our friendship and partnership with Brazil based on mutual interest and mutual respect. We were gratified that so many Brazilians could come to share the celebration of our independence and recall our long friendship, while looking forward to an even better future.