Dancers perform at a Venezuelan independence day celebration, July 5, 2017, at the Oklahoma State Capitol. (Brian Perlman)

Everyone knows July 4 is America’s Independence Day, but what many Americans don’t know is that July 5 is independence day in Venezuela.

Wednesday afternoon, several dozen Venezuelan Oklahomans gathered in the Oklahoma State Capitol rotunda, not only to celebrate their cultural heritage, but to draw attention to the current deadly crisis that is unfolding in Venezuela.

The following audio story offers the perspectives of some of those gathered for the event:

Even though the situation in the country of Venezuela is dire, the Venezuelan diaspora here in Oklahoma is proud of their country and its traditions.

The event on the fourth floor of the Capitol rotunda foyer included the presentation of awards to four Venezuelan Oklahomans who have made serious and meaningful contributions to the community and to the United States of America as a whole.

One such honoree, Army Spc. James T. Wickliff-Chacin, posthumously received an official citation of recognition. His father, Thomas Wickliff, accepted the award on his son’s behalf.

Still, the event on Wednesday wasn’t all gloom, despite the dire situation that is playing out in the streets of Caracas and other Venezuelan cities and towns. There was also a showcase of traditional Venezuelan dance, and a young woman sang the national anthem of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to a crowd beaming with pride.