Grand Island's South Sudanese Community Celebrates Independence


The world's youngest nation celebrates its second birthday this weekend.

Grand Island has been home to many South Sudanese residents, and this weekend they're celebrating their independence.

On Saturday, the South Sudanese flag was raised at a barbecue celebration for residents, who stood by it proudly as it waived thousands of miles away from its home. And later that night, the community gathered in Grand Island, where they listened to speakers and danced to their traditional music until midnight.

"This flag took the lives of two million people," said Geng Monytung, a Grand Island resident who immigrated from South Sudan. "Now it's that new, young nation."

Most adults now recall growing up in a country that was constantly at war. Monytung said he remembers decades of on and off conflict with the last civil war lasting from 1983 to 2005. But in 2011, South Sudan was born.

Peter Lokodu, was in South Sudan when it became an independent country, organized the indolence day celebrations.

"I see the difference between war and peace," he said. "It's a very beautiful thing. You see people you've never seen before they come into town. People who hid under mountains; they come in to town. It is amazing to see. Part of this celebration is to tell the community here we're part of south Sudan, and we're part of you."

Monytunfg said the number 193 means the world to the South Sudanese. "That's the number of our flag," he said. "It's now is up there with all the flags in the world I'm very proud of it to be here."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement showing his support for the nation. "On the second anniversary of your nation's independence, the journey continues," the statement says, "and we stand ready to help support economic prosperity, democratic governance, and respect for human rights in South Sudan for years to come."