Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The 4th of July Celebration in JULY - Part II

Diplopundit's July Blog Index included a brief rant about a couple of unnamed career US ambassadors (also known as chiefs of mission) in a European and African post who have the strangely odd idea that the 4th of July celebration should be celebrated in other months except July. We wrote:

And for that US Ambassador at an African post who had the US mission celebrate the 4th of July in February (nobody knew why February) -- we're told nobody was bold enough to ask why 4th of July in February did not include the singing of the U.S. national anthem.  Is this kind of like Christmas in July advertised foolishly on teevee ---but no caroling?  
We have yet to hear a pip from that European post, but somebody sent us a rejoinder with a few points of polite contention on that post in Africa. Reprinted in full below:
A writes:
The U.S. Diplomatic Post in Africa you mentioned realizes that the purpose of the 4th of July celebration held by the American diplomatic missions around the world is to share some of our values and traditions.  We fought and lost the argument to have the Independence Day celebration on the day AMERICA celebrates its independence (supposedly on the grounds that July is more likely to have rain than February and the rather expensive event more likely to have fair weather if held 4 months before Americans would ever conceive of celebrating it).  Part of the back-and-forth was the American tradition that "rain or shine" we Americans celebrate the 4th, etc. etc. but you know where Chiefs of Mission are in the food chain.

As for the National Anthem: it went back and forth as well until, with no ambiguity, it was tersely dictated that the HOST COUNTRY national anthem would be played at our celebration of American values and traditions but not the American National Anthem (word was our National Anthem was just way too long).  Unbeknownst to the visiting COM, the National Anthem remained on the docket and when she realized the act of insubordination by the community at large at the event, she refused to deliver her scheduled remarks (an act incidentally that also bolstered morale).

We continue to hold the "National Day Celebration" with suits and ties and evening gowns in late-February and the American community (Consulate and U.S. expatriates) gets together and celebrates the 4th of July on the 4th of July (usually with wonderful weather) in shorts and skirts, dunking booths and hot dogs, and a very loud "Star-Spangled Banner".
Oh, dear!  Yes, we are aware who sits at the top of the embassy food chain.  Refusing to deliver the prepared remarks sounds a lot like a kid throwing a tantrum, doesn't it?  Seems to us like a tip of the iceberg kind of thing. Makes one wonder how many staffer would follow this chief of mission to another post, or walk on coals for that matter, on her behalf ... 

Do we have some sympathy for the COM for the insubordination of the staff? Um ... nope. Embassies may not be democracies where everyone gets a vote but they certainly are not kingdoms; to reinvent a quote from Louis XIV of France, "the embassy, is not I."

Just because you can, does not mean you should ... besides how long is the "Star Spangled Banner" really, especially when you get to sing it but once a year?

Anyway-- we take back what we said about nobody there being "bold enough." Some bold souls apparently fought and lost that battle in Africa; we shudder (brrr) to think what damn with praise exhibits their EERs now contained.

Speaking of the 4th of July in JULY, we have put together a second round up of celebration -- this time of constituent posts celebrating American independence day overseas. We could not locate any mission with fireworks display, if you're aware of one do let us know:

Update 8/14:
One of our readers wrote: "U.S. Embassy Manila's Independence Day reception included a massive fireworks display; the Embassy is by Manila Bay, and a ship in the bay provided the launching platform." Embassy Manila's Flickr page does include one fireworks snapshot and you can see it here.Also see comments section on Guayaquil's fireworks.

US Consulate General Montreal, Canada:
Photo from US ConGen Montreal
Ambassador David Jacobson hosted the Consulate General’s annual Independence Day reception in Montreal (July 6). The evening was a celebration of the close ties and history that the U.S. and Canada share. Guests from around the region joined Consulate staff as a flag party from the Royal Montreal Regiment present the colors. The voice of the Montreal Canadiens, Charles Prévost-Linton, offered stirring renditions of the national anthems of both nations. On behalf of President Obama, Ambassador Jacobson wished those attending a happy 4th of July and expressed gratitude to the people of Canada for their hospitality and friendship.

US Consulate General St. Petersburg, Russia

Photo from US ConGen St Petersburg
On July 7th, U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle joined his host Consul General Sheila Gwaltney in celebrating U.S. Independence Day in St. Petersburg.  Over 250 of the U.S. Mission’s closest contacts in northwest Russia showed up at the Consul General’s Residence to sample real American food, listen to jazz performed by a St. Petersburg trio, and speak to the U.S. Ambassador and his Consulate staff. 

US Consulate General Istanbul, Turkey

Photo from US ConGen Istanbul/Facebook
Consul General Sharon Wiener and Ambassador James Jeffrey

From Remarks by U.S. Consul General Sharon Anderholm Wiener at the Celebration of the 234th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 (July 1):

Welcome to the American Consulate General in Istanbul.  Thank you for joining us tonight.  I would like to begin by thanking the American companies who have sponsored this event by generously providing the food and drink.  And, for our music tonight, we are grateful to the Panorama Band, joining us from New Orleans, and, for the second year in a row, the Yale University women’s a cappella group Whim ‘n Rhythm.  Finally, and most importantly, I would like to convey my most sincere thanks to the staff of the U.S. Consulate General, who have worked for months to make this event a success.

US Consulate General Karachi, Pakistan
(Celebration in Quetta):

Photo from US ConGen Karachi/Facebook
A festive celebration was held by U.S. Consulate General Karachi to commemorate the 234th anniversary of U.S. independence in Quetta on July 26, 2010. The new Consul General, William J. Martin, paid tribute to U.S.-Pakistan friendship. American diplomat shared that U.S. is initiating projects which will directly benefit people of Balochistan. The Speaker Balochistan Assembly, Muhammad Aslam Bhotani, and various other distinguished guests, were also present during the cake cutting ceremony.

US Consulate General Auckland, New Zealand:

Photo from Ambassador Huebner's blog
Dr. McWaine (Ambassador Huebner's spouse) greeting guests
at the Auckland event, including (from left) Anjum Rahman
of the Islamic Women's Council of New Zealand, Fatima Leung-Wai
of the University of Auckland, and Aliya Danzeisen of the Women's
Organization of the Waikato Muslim Association.

From Ambassador David Huebner's blog: We celebrated the 4th here in Wellington on the 2nd – which is, historically speaking, the date on which the delegates of the American Colonies actually voted to declare their independence from Great Britain. [...] The prior evening we held a similar reception in Auckland at the Northern Club for approximately 250 guests including Lady Hillary, the Rt. Hon. Paul East, students from my groups at the University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology, and Jools of the Topp Twins (Lynda was under the weather).  The Hon. Jonathan Coleman, Minister of Immigration, delivered remarks on behalf of the Government of New Zealand. Entertainment included a live Blue Grass band and a selection of Broadway show tunes sung by my colleague Nick and his wife. 

US Consulate General Lahore, Pakistan:
Photo from US ConGen Lahore/Facebook
Consul General Carmela Conroy’s U.S. Independence Day address. (excerpt)
“We are here today in Pakistan, in the 63rd year of its existence, to celebrate the 234th year of America’s existence. And there is so much evidence here to give us hope that one day people will celebrate the 234th year of Pakistan’s independence."

US Consulate General Mumbai, India:

Photo from US CG Mumbai
U.S. Consul General Paul A. Folmsbee hosted a celebration on July 1, 2010, at the Grand Hyatt, commemorating the United States’ 234th Independence Day.  The Chief Guest of the evening was Chief Protocol Officer, Government of Maharashtra Sumit Mullik and the Guest of Honor was author Chetan Bhagat, who was recently named by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

US Consulate General Vancouver, Canada:

Photo from US CG Vancouver/Facebook
Anyone passing the residence of U.S. Consul General Phillip Chicola July 6 couldn’t help but notice the festive atmosphere. Flags waved from the balcony. Music drifted from the garden. Red, white and blue decorated every corner. The occasion? A belated celebration of the United States’ Independence Day. Consul General Chicola and his wife Vicky welcomed more than 250 friends and colleagues to their garden party to celebrate the United States’ 234th birthday, which was actually on July 4.

That's it! And they all did it.  In July.

1 comment:

Brian... said...

In a country where they shoot off fireworks for every event including Mother's Day, the some officers in Guayaquil kindly requested fireworks and got approval and support from the CG. The fireworks were shot off after the local orchestra played everything from West Side Story to Sousa (all on July 9th- close enough).