Star Spangled Banner raised over Washington Old Hall

Star Spangled Banner raised over Washington Old Hall

The Star Spangled Banner was raised over Washington Old Hall this weekend.

The centuries old hall is the ancestral home of America's first president and provided a unique venue for the annual Independence Day celebrations.

The 4th of July festivities began with musical entertainment from City Swing before a flag raising ceremony kicked off a full day of free family entertainment. Washington Old Hall, which has been open to the public for 60 years, also saw a programme of readings and presentations by young people from the area.

The proceedings included readings of the Declaration of Independence and ‘The Dream’ by Martin Luther King. Pupils from primary schools in the area also presented their thoughts on liberty while the American National Anthem and ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ were also performed.

Robyn Brown, Assistant Director of Operations for the National Trust, which owns Washington Old Hall, read extracts from letters from America, including one by Richard Weaver, a descendant of the Washington family.

Robyn added: “The annual 4th July celebrations are something we look forward to every year – it’s a fantastic time to recognise the work that we do with the City of Sunderland to look after an important and very special historic place, and to mark the unique relationship we have with our friends in Washington DC.”

Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Barry Curran said: “When I became Mayor this was one of the annual events I most looked forward to, representing the people of our city at an occasion which symbolises our unique links with the United States and its capital.

“The Friendship Agreement between our city and Washington DC is something we can all be proud of, and something which continues to create significant benefits. I’m delighted that our guest from the American Capital Jon Gann is here to raise the flag during his stay in our city as we celebrate the first Sunderland Shorts Film Festival, which his support and the support of our friends and colleagues in Washington has made possible.

“Today is all about celebrating our shared past, but also an opportunity to look forward to our shared future and it is fantastic to have our partnership with Washington DC so much at the heart of today’s celebration.”

Sunderland is the only non-capital city to have a Friendship Agreement with the US capital.

The Friendship Agreement encourages a range of activities between the two cities to foster cultural and economic relationships. Previous activities have included exhibitions of glass and ceramic art from DC and Sunderland artists in both cities and the participation of 37 Sunderland artists in a major Washington DC exhibition. The Sunderland Shorts Film Festival is the latest project, taking inspiration from the DC Short Film Festival and working closely with its creator Jon Gann who has mentored and advised the various business partners in the Sunderland Project.

Gann’s participation has been supported by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities which provides funding for cultural partnerships projects which link DC activity with any of its 13 sister cities. The bid was developed in partnership with Sunderland City Council.

Find out more about Washington Old Hall.

Find out more about The National Trust at Washington Old Hall.

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Sunderland's Friendship Agreement with Washington DC makes us the only city in Europe to enjoy such a relationship with the world's most powerful city. Washington Old Hall is home to the direct ancestors of the first president of the United States of America.

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