Photos: America's Stars and Stripes Raised in Cuba

The U.S. flag was raised in Cuba for the first time in 54 years. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Pool/Reuters

Three U.S. Marines raised the American flag in Cuba on Friday, marking an important step toward the end of more than five decades of Cold War-era hostility between the two nations.

Secretary of State John Kerry flew to the Communist island nation to address a crowd gathered outside of the U.S. Embassy. He stood nearby as the Marines prepared the flag to the tune of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Friday was "a day for pushing aside old barriers and exploring new possibilities," Kerry said. He applauded President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro for bringing the countries together.

"We are each confident in our intentions, in the contacts we have made and the friendships we have begun to forge," Kerry said.

Workers cover a podium with the seal of the U.S. Embassy in Havana on August 13, in preparation for the official reopening of the U.S. Embassy. Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters
Workers place the name "Embassy of the United States of America" above the main entrance in the early-morning hours of August 14. Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters
The U.S. seal is placed on the wall at the main entrance of the U.S. Embassy. Enrique de la Osa/Reuters
People stand on a sidewalk near the government building. Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters
A man holds a U.S. flag while gathering with others on a sidewalk, waiting for Secretary of State John Kerry to arrive. Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters
Kerry arrives at José Marti International Airport in Havana for the historic ceremony. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Pool/Reuters
Kerry speaks to the crowd gathered in Havana. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Pool/Reuters
Kerry (center) stands with other dignitaries as members of the U.S. Marines raise the American flag over the newly reopened embassy. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Pool/Reuters
People take pictures after the U.S. flag was raised in Havana. Enrique De La Osa/Reuters