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Bush commemorates America's birthplace as a British colony

Bush commemorates America's birthplace as a British colony

President George W. Bush, who is fond of promoting the enduring value of freedom, made a pilgrimage Sunday to the settlement where the American nation began to take shape centuries ago in swampland as a British colony.
Bush came to honor the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, America's first permanent English colony. It began in 1607 as a grueling commercial venture, and over time, became a starting point of representative government and free enterprise.
"It is a chance to renew our commitment to help others around the world realize the great blessings of liberty," Bush told an estimated crowd of 25,000 at the celebration.
Virginia has thrown major Jamestown celebrations every 50 years, but this one has given more recognition to three cultures _ English, African and Indian _ to tell a fuller story.
With the arrival of the English in May 1607, native Indian tribes eventually were pushed off their lands, and slavery in America is traced to Jamestown, where the first Africans in the country arrived in 1619.
Earlier, Bush played tourist with first lady Laura Bush. He said he enjoyed being "where it all started."
On a day turned from gray to sunny, they began with a walking tour of Historic Jamestowne, where archeologists continue to unearth storied remains.
The structure of the settlers' original triangular fort _ long thought to have been washed way _ has been recovered. So, too, have tools, pottery and jewelry.
The president viewed the remains of a water well and the original brick foundation of 17th century governor's home.
He watched as workers sifted through remains at the active dig site. "So this takes place every day?" he asked. Workers nodded yes.
He also looked at a new find _ a sword handle dating to the first days of the settlement. The hilt serves as a guard for the hand. Workers found it just as Bush was there. Michael Lavin, senior conservator at the site, said there was no pressure to find something special during Bush's visit.
"We find something cool every day," Lavin told reporters.
Bush then strolled through Jamestown Settlement, where early 17th century living is re-enacted. The settlement features replicas of the three ships that sailed from England to Virginia, along with recreations of the colonists' fort and an Powhatan Indian village.
The president looked at weapons and tools of the time, and watched as the sails of one of the replica ships, the Susan Constant, were unfurled.
Then came four ceremonial canon blasts _ so loud they made the president shudder.
His speech took place at nearby Anniversary Park. The former campground was built just for this three-day weekend, the centerpiece of an elaborate 18-month commemoration in the works for a decade.
Queen Elizabeth II visited Jamestown 10 days ago, accompanied by Vice President Dick Cheney and Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine. She toured the grounds at length, returning to a spot that she had seen as queen in 1957, in her first visit to the United States as England's monarch.
Bush came on the actual anniversary of the settlers' arrival.
Four centuries ago, a group of 104 English men and boys began a settlement on the banks of James River, enduring lack of food, disease and struggling attempts at commerce en route to establishing a permanent colony.
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On The Net:
http://www.Americas400thAnniversary.com