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  • U.S. Independence Day 2015U.S. Independence Day 20152 3

    On behalf of the government of the United States, the staff of the U.S. Embassy wish-es all Americans residing in or visiting Costa Rica a wonderful Fourth of July holiday! This is an important day to come together, remem- ber our history, and celebrate our great nation.

    One of the U.S. Embassy’s top priorities is to provide excellent customer service to the near- ly one million American citizens who travel to or reside in Costa Rica. From assisting those in peril to renewing passports to answering any question you may have, the Embassy’s American Citizen

    Services section is ready to help! We encour- age everyone to celebrate democracy this 4th of July by taking the necessary steps to vote in the 2016 U.S. elections. We recommend overseas U.S. citizens get in the habit of completing Feder- al Post Card Applications to ensure receipt of your ballot. We invite you to go online to http://co- starica.usembassy.gov for more information.

    We are very proud to celebrate the day with you and share our continuing commitment to uphold the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans.

    I would like to convey to the American Col-ony in Costa Rica my best wishes on the Fourth of July. You are part of our nation: You became members of Costa Rica the mo- ment you set foot in our country. Those of you who have been living in Costa Rica for a long time can attest to the warmth and friendship of Costa Rica towards the United States. Allow me to wish you well, since I will not be able to be with you on this very important occasion when you commemorate the independence of the 13 colonies. All the best, and ¡Pura vida!

    Message from the President of Costa Rica

    Luis Guillermo Solís President of the Republic of Costa Rica

    Message from the U.S. Embassy

    http://costarica.usembassy.gov/ http://costarica.usembassy.gov/

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    Message from the American Colony

    Once again we are here celebrating our tra-ditional Fourth of July Independence Day Picnic. This is the 55th year the American Colony Committee has united us for this gather- ing of Americans living in and visiting this lovely country of Costa Rica. Many of us are accompanied by our Costa Rican friends and family members as well.

    This year we celebrate by recognizing our Liberty Bell: “Let Freedom Ring.”

    Every year when I attend this event I go home

    with a little more knowledge of U.S. history. At the picnic you will see, displayed on the podium, origi- nal Liberty Bell artwork by our member, friend and world-famous artist, Mr. Jim Theologos. This art- work can on seen the front side of all of our 2015 T-Shirts, worn by our 300 volunteers at this year’s picnic.

    Why, when and where did the Liberty Bell be- come part of our history?

    The Liberty Bell is an iconic symbol of Amer- ican Independence, located in Philadelphia, Penn- sylvania. The bell was commissioned by a London foundry in 1752 and was cast with the lettering “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” The bell cracked when rung after its arrival in Philadelphia, and was twice recast by local workmen whose names appear on the bell. It was used to summon lawmakers to legis- lative sessions and to alert citizens to public meet- ings and proclamations. The bell was not rung on July 4, 1776, after the vote for independence by the Second Continental Congress, but was rung after the official reading of the Declaration of Indepen- dence four days later. In the 1830s the bell was adopted as a symbol by abolitionist societies, who named it the “Liberty Bell.”

    So let the bells ring for us today, and truly en- joy this day of celebration.

    Charles Turner President, American Colony Committee

    sales@ticotimes.net / (506) 2258-1558

    Editor: Katherine Stanley Obando

    Contributors: Zach Dyer, Jonathan Harris, Robert Isenberg

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    A Look Back at a Different World: Remembering the Fourth of July Picnic, 1965 JONATHAN HARRIS | THE TICO TIMES

    Archives / The Tico Times

    Fifty years ago today was simply unforgettable. Sure, I was all of 6 years old, and had only just begun to have my surroundings indelibly imprinted into my future memory, but if you were around back then you must remember, too. The skies were bluer than they’ve ever been since. The grass was huge and very green in the empty pas- tures that surrounded the old U.S. Embassy Res- idence. There were cows roaming the streets, and we all had cattle guards to keep them (mostly suc- cessfully) out of our homes.

    It was a very special day. My family woke ear- ly and walked to the Embassy Residence for the pic- nic, which, as it is today, was held in the morning to avoid afternoon showers. It may have been the last time my Dad had to hoist me on his shoulders most of the way because I couldn’t keep up. If I had been asked then where I would be living in 50 years, I would have wondered why I would be living any-

    where but where I lived then – which, of course, is where I live now. A location obviously selected to be within walking distance of the picnic in San Rafael de Escazú.

    The Embassy Residence was special to us for several reasons. One reason that stands out even more than the picnics themselves was that John F. Kennedy shook my brother’s hand at an event there two years before. JFK had Costa Rica thoroughly smitten, and my brother was no exception: I don’t think he washed his hands for years afterwards. Of course, my mother later inadvertently threw out my brother’s diary where Mr. Kennedy wrote a note to his friend Michael.

    Seen from the enlightened perspective of 2015, Costa Rica was a different world in 1965. It seems unreal to describe that world now. The coun- try was embarking on its new path forward that had started in 1948. We Continues on Page 12

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    were very isolated. We didn’t have U.S. fast-food chains. We couldn’t even buy ketchup. My favorite birthday present was a small bottle of Welch’s grape juice, which to me was a fine wine. We didn’t have American TV, and movies arrived years after their original release. Transportation by horse out here in the boonies was still commonplace. Poisoned meat was still thrown in the streets by the authorities to control rabies. All Americans spoke Spanish, very well, and most of our friends were Costa Rican; they wel- comed us in their homes, as they were welcome in ours. We were assimilating. The 4th of July picnic was our one opportunity to parade Uncle Sam and the American flag, and invite all our Tico friends to share our special day.

    President José “Pepe” Figueres was a hero, not only to Costa Rica, but to those of us who had

    adopted this country as well. The holiday was a time to hold hands and celebrate both our coun- tries’ heritage, and vow to move together towards a better future. Thanks to Jack Fendell, who started the American Colony’s July 4 picnic tradition, we continued to live our shared lives and our shared heritage. The picnic epitomized our two cultures learning to live, and grow, together.

    There were relatively few American families in Costa Rica then, and we knew them all. In fact, it seemed to me that my parents knew everyone on the planet, but certainly everyone at the picnic, U.S. and Tico. There was no visible security entering the picnic except for the very impressively outfitted Marines who couldn’t help playing with the kids. Everyone was welcome, regardless of nationality. No IDs were checked. It was a party for all.

    July 4, 1965 was a Sunday, so nobody had an excuse to not come – if, that is, they could make it out to the hinterland of Escazú in the morning. I remember arriving vividly:

    The huge gates are wide open. The crisp Ma- rines stand on either side and welcome you. You are immediately impressed with the fact that you’re walking towards the grandest house you’ve ever seen. It is immaculately white with huge columns around its entrance holding up a balcony. There is an oval drive with a beautiful garden in the mid- dle. It is mind-blowing. Surely even the real White House wishes it looked like this.

    What a great day to be an American… in Costa Rica.

    The Ambassador and his family, whom, of course, we and everybody else know, make a point

    of greeting us personally. The adults mingle, which means the kids are let loose to run around. Parents go get a drink (beer?), and walk around in their Sunday best laughing loudly, making us very glad to go and do all the kid stuff there is to do. There are the games – three-legged races, sack races, egg tosses – the same theme there always was and al- ways will be.

    But I had two favorite events. I think we all agreed. You simply had to get on the oxcart that did continuous loops around the oval driveway, and you had to watch Woody Woodpecker.

    As you can imagine, it was a beautifully paint- ed, Sarchi-style oxcart led by two huge oxen.