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Posted: 7/4/2002 1:54:48 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/4/2002 2:07:21 AM EDT by raven]
We're honored! [:D] I appreciate and cherish participants' friendship with the US. Althought the notable Dane in my community celebrates Bastille Day at his restaurant [>:/] [b]COPENHAGEN, Denmark (July 3, 2002 7:55 p.m. EDT) - There is a corner of this land that is forever American. Or Danish. Or both. Dreamed up a century ago by Danish immigrants in America to keep in touch with their roots, the Rebild Festival has been an annual event since 1912, claiming to be the biggest annual Fourth of July party outside the United States. Some 20,000 people ranging from Queen Margrethe to American exchange students are expected to converge on the hilly corner of northern Denmark, rain or shine, for barbecue, square dancing, country music and all the other fixtures of a typical American Independence Day bash. This is the place to spot American politicians on the rise; George Bush attended when he was vice president, and Ronald Reagan when he was governor of California. Richard Nixon showed up in 1962. It's also a place to highlight Danish-American connections. Janet Reno, whose father was an immigrant from Denmark, spoke at the festival in 1994 when she was attorney general. A bust of Victor Borge, the late Danish-American comedian and musician, stands at Rebild. And it's where Danish feelings about America can be gauged by counting how many Danes turn out to flash banners and yell protests about the U.S. policy of the day - Korea, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Cuba, the Middle East. In recent years, only a few protesters have turned up. The festival was the brainchild of a group of homesick Danish immigrants in the United States who wanted a place where they could always visit to meet with relatives and fellow immigrants. After years of discussion, they bought 120 acres around the village of Rebild, 155 miles northwest of Copenhagen, and named it Rebild National Park in a nod to the American park system set up by President Theodore Roosevelt. "For many Americans of Danish descent, it's the umbilical cord to Denmark," said Birgit Larsen of the Danish Emigration Archives, a government-subsidized museum. In the late 19th century, some 300,000 Danes, or 10 percent of the population then, fled famine and emigrated to United States. Many farmers settled in the Midwest because the landscape reminded them of home, Larsen said. But even fifth-generation Danish emigrants still "feel they have a foot in each country," she said. At Rebild, you don't have to be Danish-American to be a guest speaker. These have included actor Danny Kaye, satirist Art Buchwald and singer Pat Boone. The festival is paid for with private American and Danish funds, sales at the festival, and dues from the Rebild Society's 2,600 members in the United States and Denmark. The two-hour ceremony opens with the hoisting of the U.S. and Danish flags while the national anthems echo in the hills. With the queen and Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen in the audience at the park's grassy natural amphitheater, U.S. Ambassador Stuart Bernstein will speak on behalf of President Bush and things will end with everybody holding hands and singing "Auld Lang Syne" in English and Danish ("Maa gammelt venskab ej forgaa"). This year's festival will be different. For one thing, organizers expect this year's turnout to be double that of last year, because it's the 90th anniversary and the popular queen is attending. [/b]
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