CELEBRATIONS have taken place to mark US Independence Day at the ancestral home of George Washington.
Sunderland’s close links with the USA and the American capital were again remembered at the annual July 4 celebrations at Washintong Old Hall.
Activities and events were organised by local schools, the Friends of Washington Old Hall and the National Trust in partnership with Sunderland City Council.
The annual free event, which is open to all, included a reading from the American Declaration of Independence by the Chair of Sunderland Youth Parliament, Daniel Alcock, a reading of Martin Luther King’s ‘The Dream’ by Martyn Foster from Broadway Junior School and music was provided by the ‘City Swings’ band.
The American National Anthem and the Battle Hymn of the Republic were also given stirring renditions, led by Washington School’s Glee Club.
Highlights involved children from Springwell Dene School, John F Kennedy Primary School, George Washington Primary School and Broadway Junior School. performing words and songs around the theme of George Washington’s writings. The audience also included pupils from Redhouse Academy who will be visiting Washington DC later this year in September.
The July 4t celebration is part of an ongoing programme of activities taking place in both cities under the umbrella of the Friendship Agreement between them.
Nick Dolan of the National Trust opened the ceremony and invited Councillor Robert Heron, the Mayor of Sunderland, to give a short speech on the special partnership between the City of Sunderland and Washington DC, highlighting some of the joint activity that takes place during the year.
Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Paul Watson said: “It is always great to see school children and young people from across the city getting involved in events and activities that celebrate and strengthen the links with our international partners.
“Sunderland is rightly proud of the unique historic connection it shares with Washington DC, the capital city of America, and greatly values this very important friendship. Not only does it open up opportunities for our children and young people but it also supports us as we continue to develop the city’s economy.
“American companies employ over 6,000 people in the city and America remains a key market for our software companies in particular.”
House Manager at Washington Old Hall, Kate Gardner, added: “The National Trust and Friends of Washington Old Hall are once again delighted to host this celebration of American Independence Day once, building on the well-established partnerships with local schools and the city council.
“The theme for this year’s programme is George Washington’s Writings, and follows an exhibition we held in February of this year to coincide with America’s Black History Month. I think George Washington’s true self comes through in these writings, from his time as a General and then President, and they give the reader a real insight into George Washington as a man. It was a real pleasure to see the young people interpreting all of this for themselves in their performances”