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Philly Flies Cambodian Flag in Recognition Ceremony

Cambodia's Ambassador to Washington DC, Hem Heng, far left, joins in to celebrate the flag ceremony in Philadelphia.

The city of Philadelphia, Penn., has flown the Cambodian flag over its streets for the first time Friday, along with those from other countries as a way to recognize the colorful members of its community.

Some 20,000 Cambodian-Americans live in Philadelphia, along with Bangladeshis, Indonesians, Nepalis and other groups.

On Friday, the city honored 19 different immigrant nations with a flag ceremony and the naturalization of 20 people.

“Please recognize all these great countries,” the town's mayor, Michael Nutter, told a gathered crowd, as flags were flown along Benjamin Franklin Parkway. “This is what America is all about. We believe in freedom. We want everyone to feel welcome here and today is part of our outreach and expression that everyone should feel welcome.”

After the ceremony, a group of Cambodians gathered the flag in a religious ceremony.

“Today's success comes from all of you, due to your solidarity,” venerable monk Rath Mony, who is the head of Wat Preah Puth Raingsey, said. “Therefore, let us celebrate our flag here today. Long live the Khmers. Long live Buddhism. Long live the Khmers in Philadelphia.”

Cambodians who came for the festival said they were excited.

“We are very happy to see that our community has successfully requested our flag to be flown in Philadelphia,” onlooker Tray Hol told VOA Khmer. “This has never happened in the last 30 years.”

“This is an official recognition of our people in Philadelphia,” said another participant, Leang Kim Chhay.

Friday's ceremony marked the first time the Cambodian flag was flown in Philadelphia, Cambodian Ambassador Hem Heng said. “Whether you are in Cambodia or overseas, this is our pride. I would like to express my appreciation to the community here for working so hard over the last 30 years to get our flag flown here today. We have only one flag. Therefore, we should all be united."