Millions of Afghans celebrate their Independence Day - 2002-08-19

Millions of Afghans celebrated their Independence Day Monday -- for the first time in more than two decades.

President Hamid Karzai marked the 83rd anniversary of independence from Britain by paying homage to the millions of Afghans who died fighting foreign occupation.

He addressed the nation, but canceled the traditional military parade to save money. President Karzai promised he would work for unity among rival ethnic groups and vowed to continue to seek international aid to rebuild a country shattered by 23 years of occupation and war.

Thousands of Afghan descended on Kabul sports stadium, once the scene of Taleban's public executions, to watch martial arts and student parades.

In the former Taleban stronghold of Kandahar, thousands of people waved Afghan flags and cheered as soldiers and tanks paraded by. The Governor of the province (Gul Agha Sherzai) proclaimed that in the future, symbols of peace and development would replace the guns and ammunition of the parade.