The United States Embassy celebrated America’s 239th Independence Day with a baseball-themed event at the Taj Palace Hotel today. India’s Minister of State for External Affairs General V.K. Singh was the Chief Guest, with over 1200 dignitaries from government, business, the diplomatic corps, and civil society in attendance. Each year, the United States celebrates its independence on July 4. This year marks its 239th anniversary.
Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Richard Verma said, “Baseball has brought our two nations together,” giving the example of Indian pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, who were discovered after winning a reality show competition, the Million Dollar Arm. Dinesh Patel, who played professional baseball in the United States for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization after winning Million Dollar Arm, attended the celebrations.
The history of U.S. baseball connections to India dates back to World War II. “There is also a long history of baseball in the state of Manipur. U.S. soldiers who were stationed there during WWII would play pickup baseball games with Manipuris during their deployment. To this day, baseball is an influential part of Manipur’s culture, with women and girls among the most talented and passionate players,” the Ambassador noted.
Ambassador Verma praised U.S.-India people-to-people connections and shared values, noting that they “form the foundation of trust and interconnectedness that will help us tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges together. “When the people of India and the people of the United States gained their independence, they designed liberal representative democracies that put freedom of conscience and self-rule above all else,” he said. “It only makes sense that the United States and India are natural partners – we have so much in common.”
The celebration featured performances by the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Division Band, Paradise Brass, who came all the way from Hawaii for the event.