Eugene Tadie and his wife, Virginia Canil, welcomed business and political leaders, friends and neighbours into their Tuxedo home and issued a heartfelt thanks for all Manitoba and Canada did for the U.S., and for them, after the airborne attacks on New York and Washington.
"Our two countries are very distinct from one another," Tadie said. "But there exists nonetheless an unbreakable bond due to a belief that liberty must be upheld."
Tadie asked for a minute of silence to remember the victims of Sept. 11 and the soldiers who have died to protect the U.S. and Canada.
While Canadians and others worldwide watched anxiously yesterday, Americans, amid tight security, seemed to shrug off FBI warnings about possible terrorist attacks as the United States celebrated its 226th birthday.
The holiday was marred by a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport in which three died, including the shooter.
At press time last night, the motive for the Los Angeles shooting remained unclear, authorities said, noting the gunman appeared to have acted alone.
As well, a small plane that ran into difficulty after takeoff crashed into a holiday crowd in San Dimas, Calif., killing three people and injuring several others.
Fighter jets patrolled the skies over New York, Washington and other major U.S. centres, and the FBI and local police were on high alert.
At the Winnipeg picnic, Canil was close to tears as she spoke of her experience on Sept. 11, just two weeks after she moved to Winnipeg. She was living temporarily in the Fairmont Hotel, watching the television alone in her hotel room, worrying about friends and family, including her daughter in Washington, D.C., afraid of what might come next.
Canil said the warmth and hospitality of Manitobans kept her going.
"I remember words of comfort, I remember crowds of people, I remember lots of tears," Canil said, fighting back her own. "You embraced us as a family, you shared our sorrow... This is how I will always remember you."
A U.S. honour guard from Grand Forks carried in the American flag and the U.S and Canadian national anthems were sung. But it was during America the Beautiful that tears streamed down Canil's face.
"We're celebrating freedom, we're celebrating democracy and the willingness of our nations to fight for it, and when necessary, give their lives to defend it," she said.
Premier Gary Doer said there should be a celebration of the close connections in trade and tourism the two countries share. But he also noted the partnership between the nations is always visible, pointing out that many families just a few blocks away from the party, in Kapyong Barracks, were waiting for their loved ones to come home from Afghanistan, where they are fighting in the war on terrorism.
Doer said Americans and Canadians should loudly celebrate that terrorism has not won and democracy has been defended.
"Today being the first July Fourth since Sept. 11, we should give even more thought and celebration to the United States and its contributions to defending democracy around the world."
The celebration was not all reflection, however.
More than 150 people, including Winnipeg police Chief Jack Ewatski and Peak of the Market owner Larry McIntosh, munched on hotdogs, hamburgers, baked beans and ice cream under tents wrapped in red, white and blue streamers. Even Tadie's English sheep dog got into the fun, sporting a U.S. flag kerchief around her neck.
A small but visible security force and a few Winnipeg police officers kept watch at the front gates, but the only unwanted guests were a July downpour and Manitoba's famous mosquitoes. Canil joked that they were welcome as well.
"We were glad to see the mosquitoes showed up this week," she said, promising coupons for calamine lotion as a party favour. "We were beginning to think the promise of really lousy winters and mosquitoes were just ploys to get us to move here."
In the United States, the military temporarily reactivated post-Sept. 11 combat jet patrols over Washington and New York. Other cities also got the overflights, although the Pentagon would not name them.
Fighter planes enforced no-fly zones around the Statue of Liberty and the George Washington Bridge, the carved presidential heads at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and other structures and national monuments that were potential terrorist targets.
Two low-flying private planes that were in restricted air space over Marine Parkway Bridge near the Rockaways in New York were chased by F-16s and forced to land in New Jersey. The pilots were being questioned last night.
In New York, the Federal Aviation Administration announced temporary flight restrictions below 3,000 metres over virtually all of Manhattan.
The FBI said a group with terrorist ties had downloaded images of two U.S. stadiums -- Edward Jones Dome, home to the NFL's St. Louis Rams, and Indianapolis' RCA Dome -- from www.worldstadiums.com, which features pictures of stadiums worldwide. Both stadiums were closed for the holiday.
Visitors to Washington's monument-packed National Mall opened coolers and picnic baskets for inspection by police armed with hand-held metal detectors at 24 security checkpoints along a double line of snow fencing.
There were more than 2,000 police on duty, some from as far afield as New Jersey. They patrolled smaller parks along the Potomac River, where thousands planned to watch the fireworks.
The tiny borough of Shanksville, Pa., where the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into the earth last Sept. 11, held the first Fourth of July parade in its 173-year history.
The new round-the-clock Homeland Security Co-ordination Center was monitoring nearly 2,100 medium and large Independence Day events across the country.
The command centre in Washington, with open lines to each of those celebrations, was staffed by special liaisons from the FBI, Secret Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Health and Human Services.
President George W. Bush planned to host an invited crowd at the White House after spending the morning with veterans in the courthouse square of Ripley, W.Va.
-- With files from the news services