Fourth of July travelers always see a good dose of red, white and blue in Old Glory while in transit to Independence Day celebrations around the nation.
That won’t change this year at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which has planned an array of American musical performances around the premises and has hung a giant American flag in the international terminal.
But with the holiday smack in the middle of what some have stretched into a full week of travel, the world’s busiest airport also used America’s birthday to showcase strong relationships with other countries represented in the city.
The fourth annual “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Flying” display launched June 28 makes use of the atrium in the Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal, where local consulates placed flower arrangements using their national colors.
Accompanying these visible signs of support were letters from each consulate expressing congratulations for the 242nd birthday of the United States. The 10 countries who sent representatives this year (two more than last year), included:
- El Salvador
The consuls general of El Salvador, Japan and Israel — the top diplomats in the Southeast U.S. for these countries — were slated to be on hand, along with many deputy consuls, tourism representatives or other government officials.
Interim Deputy General Manager and Chief Financial Officer Greg Richardson said the airport was taking the chance to show patriotism as well as recognize that the U.S. is part of a broader global community, a fact signified by the inclusion of a U.S. flower arrangement among the others.
“Indeed, as one nation in a world of nations, the United States understands the importance of diplomacy and in reflecting our principles through exemplary relations with other countries. These relations, built and molded over time, are part of what make this country so exceptional,” Mr. Richardson was slated to say, according to a copy of his remarks.
Alrene Barr, a Jamaica native and the airport’s director of international affairs, said as she welcomed consular corps members that the celebration was “not only of this nation’s Independence Day, but also this country’s diversity and international charm.”
Ms. Barr has also spearheaded cultural days at the airport featuring countries like Korea, which Delta Air Lines and Korean Air serve via direct flights to Seoul, as well as the signing of sister airport agreements and partnerships with countries like Jamaica, Israel and El Salvador. She recently helped drive a celebration of Caribbean-American Heritage Month,where dancers and special foods celebrated airport employees from the region, as well as Atlanta’s close connections to the countries there:
Hartsfield-Jackson also each year conducts training for airport officials around the hemisphere, including for some countries with representation at the event, like El Salvador and Ecuador.
After a U.S. Customs and Border Protection staffer sang the national anthem, airport volunteers handed out pins to those who have served in the country’s armed services. The crowd also got red, white and blue glow sticks.
Even as he celebrated global integration, Mr. Richardson said it’s vital that Americans recognize those who made their freedom possible:
“This weekend and throughout next week, as many of us enjoy fireworks, barbecues and picnics to celebrate the Fourth of July, we ask that you please remember to pay tribute to our active military service members and distinguished veterans. These men and women have served with honor and distinction. Let us salute their courage and their sacrifices to our great nation.”