The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek held its annual Fourth of July reception on Friday, July 1. Sipping donated Coca-Cola beverages, guests gathered under red, white, and blue canopies on the lawn of the embassy. The U.S. Air Force Band "Blue Hawk" entertained guests with its repertoire of Latin and pop music. The band also played songs from different cultures, genres, and eras, highlighting the diversity of the American experience. We were fortunate to enjoy warm and sunny weather for the reception, but attendees had many more reasons to celebrate.
American citizens and their guests in Bishkek, of course, observed the 235th anniversary of U.S. independence. In her speech, U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic Pamela Spratlen highlighted the accomplishments of the Kyrgyz Republic in the past year, saying "As we remember the signing of the American Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, let us also celebrate this historic year in the Kyrgyz Republic, which included a peaceful constitutional referendum and laudable parliamentary elections."
Furthermore, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps. To include the Peace Corps in the festivities, a yurt was placed on the embassy grounds and housed a display of Peace Corps involvement in the Kyrgyz Republic. A yurt is a traditional Central Asian dwelling that is formed like a round tent out of wooden frames and felt covering. The wooden crown of the yurt is symbolic in Central Asian culture, and a representation of this crown appears on the center of the Kyrgyz flag today. The crown signifies family and community, with which the Peace Corps works to make strong connections.
Finally, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is also celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. For our Fourth of July celebration, USAID arranged a photo display of their recent accomplishments in the Kyrgyz Republic. These initiatives included the Summer School of Democracy, the International Child Youth Tennis Tournament, a children's drawing contest for World Tuberculosis Day, and medical and humanitarian assistance provided since last year's difficult events.