USCG Milan rolled out its “burger diplomacy” with Chef Spike Mendelsohn and his signature “Prez Obama” and “Michelle Melt” burgers from Tizzy’s N.Y. Bar & Grill. Milan is also the site of @Expo2015Milano and on 4th of July, @USAPavilion2015 must have quite a spread.
Let’s start our roundup at the National Archives where there is a host of free activities on July 4 for those in the WashDC area. Hey, you can sign a facsimile of the Declaration of Independence and share your #ISignedTheDeclaration on social media! There will be a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence, a presentation of colors and performance by the Continental Color Guard and the Fife and Drum Corps from the U.S. 3rd Infantry, the Old Guard. You can even take a ColonialSelfie w/ @Thos_Jefferson@portia1776 or @Lysander1776 on #July4th! Check it out here: http://go.usa.gov/3vTrT.
Ambassador and Mrs. Heyman hosted 4,000 guests at Lornado, with representatives from 70 countries in attendance. The embassy’s Motor City Rising theme includes bagpipers, drums, bands and Motwon music.
SCOTUS ruled today in a 5-4 decision that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. Justice Kennedy said gay and lesbian couples had a fundamental right to marry. Excerpt from the majority opinion written by Justice Kennedy (via NYT):
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family,” he wrote. “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”
“It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage,” Justice Kennedy said of the couples challenging state bans on same-sex marriage. “Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
The case is Obergefell v. Hodges. Read the SCOTUS opinion here (pdf). Sending hugs to our friends in the LGBT community this beautiful and historic summer day!
Below is a round-up of U.S. embassies marking LGBT Pride Month this year:
The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta generated some controversy this month when it moved its July 4th celebration to June 4th to avoid conflict with the month-long Ramadan observance in the country. (See US Embassies Move Fourth of July For Heat, Monsoon Weather, and Now For Ramadan — Read Before Getting Mad). Al Arabiya News Channel reported that Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court has announced Thursday, June 18 as the first day of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. Below is a round-up of posts that marked Fourth of July in June this year. Our posts in Muslim countries who have yet to celebrate independence day may have to wait until after July 17th to hold their annual celebration. If you don’t get why, click here or here.
U.S. Embassy Jakarta, Indonesia with Ambassador Robert Blake
U.S. Embassy Rabat, Morocco with Ambassador Dwight L. Bush, Sr.
June 4, 2015 | ‘We celebrate tonight not only the anniversary of America’s independence, but also the longstanding and warm ties of friendship between the United States and the Kingdom of Morocco.” – Ambassador Bush at last night’s Independence day celebration here at the Embassy, which is the first such celebration at our new Embassy compound.
Image via US Embassy Rabat/FB
U.S. Consulate General Casablanca, Morocco with CG Nicole Theriot
June 14 | U.S. Consul General Nicole Theriot in Casablanca, joined by Ambassador Bush to celebrate 239 years of American independence. This year’s event was a Luau (“great feast”) which incorporated fire dancers, Tiki carvings, volcanoes and delicious food showcasing the rich culture and traditions of the state of Hawaii.”
Image via US Embassy Rabat/FB
U.S. Embassy Dushanbe, Tajikistan with Ambassador Susan Elliott
June 8, 2015 | Did you know the United States gained independence 239 years ago? Here are some photos from this year’s early celebration at the Hyatt Regency Dushanbe! This year’s Independence Day commemorates the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act – a law securing access, opportunity, inclusion, and full participation for persons with disabilities. In her address, Ambassador Susan Elliott praised U.S.-Tajik cooperation and advocated for greater collaboration to improve conditions for all Tajiks, and highlighted the importance of persons with disabilities having the same rights as non-disabled persons regardless of any disabilities that may prevent them from engaging in daily life.
US Embassy Dushanbe, Tajikistan/FB
U.S. Embassy Algiers, Algeria with Ambassador Joan A. Polaschik
Ambassador Joan A. Polaschik leading the 4th of July celebration at the US Embassy in Algeria, June 15, 2015 | US Embassy Algiers/FB
U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with Ambassador Joseph Yun
June 15 | This year, we celebrate our diverse heritage on the 239th anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America in the beautiful island of Penang as well!
US Embassy Malaysia Fourth of July celebration in Penang with Ambassador Joseph Y. Yun | US Embassy KL/FB
Time to re-up our favorite Fourth of July video from US Consulate General Milan featuring President Obama, Lady Liberty, then Ambassador David Thorne, Consul General Kyle Scott and the USCG Milan crew:
American embassies hold Fourth of July festivities every year. This blog has followed those official celebrations through the last several years. There is brewing controversy over the news that the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta had moved its Fourth of July celebration to June 4th this year to “avoid any conflict with the month-long Ramadan celebration.” Makes perfect sense to us. Before you get all mad, read on.
The Celebration of the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta’s 239th Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America with Ambassador Blake and guests Photo credit: State Dept./Erik A. Kurniawan
This is certainly not the first time that an embassy had moved its Fourth of July celebration to a different date. In 2012, the US Embassy in Oman celebrated our 236th year of independence in February that year. We were once told thatheatis the reason for these early 4th of July celebrations at various overseas posts. At one EUR post, we heard that it was the heat and the fact that most government officials leave the capital city in July. In 2013 and again in 2014, the US Embassy in Nepal celebrated July 4th three months earlier, in March “in the hopes of escaping monsoon weather.”
So yes, our diplomatic posts overseas have moved these independence day celebrations due to heat, monsoon weather, and now, Ramadan. And this is probably not the first time an embassy has done this, and it will not be the last.
Ramadan this year begins the evening of June 17 and ends the evening of July 17. During this time, many Muslims will observe a pre-fast meal before dawn. At sunset, they will have their fast-breaking meal. On July 4th, in Muslim host countries like Indonesia, the red, white and blue cake will not be first on their minds when they break their fast for their first meal of the day since dawn.
Here’s where we pause for a reminder that these Fourth of July celebrations are official functions typically hosted by our embassies for host country nationals and contacts. There is every need to accommodate local sensitivities and realities.
Or there will be no one in attendance.
But what about American citizens, you say; can’t they just party among themselves? They can for private celebrations, of course. But the diplomatic Fourth of July celebration has an official function and purpose, which is (like all representational functions), to provide for the proper representation of the United States, and further foreign policy objectives.
The Department of State Standardized Regulations also dictates that embassy representational allowance may not be used for “expenses of recreation and entertainment solely for employees of the Executive Branch of the United States Government and their families” (5 U.S.C. 5536). That’s right. Uncle Sam will throw a thunderbolt at an embassy that hosts representational events/functions for its American employees or American citizens alone. Regulations require that “U.S. presence, official and private, must be less than half the total guest list.”
In fact, 3 FAM 3246.3 spells this quite clearly: “Since representation relationships are established and maintained primarily with host-country officials and private citizens, guest lists for representation events must reflect minimum guest-ratio guidelines set by the chief of mission for each type of representation function (rarely more than 50 percent U. S. Government executive branch employees) to ensure that representative cross sections are invited.”
U.S. Memorial Day commemorations in Belgium | Each year, the U.S. Embassy to the Kingdom of Belgium observes Memorial Day by participating in commemoration ceremonies to honor the more than 14,000 American soldiers buried in Belgium in World War One and World War Two cemeteries.
Photo by US Embassy Brussels/FB
US Embassy Romania
US Embassy Bucharest, Romania | Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Dean Thompson at the occasion of Memorial Day Ceremony. Bucharest, May 22, 2015 (Lucian Crusoveanu / Public Diplomacy Office)
In celebration of this year’s Lunar New Year, the folks at the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong and Macau sent their Consul General Clifford A. Hart, Jr. to learn the traditional Chinese art of paper tearing with master artist Lee Sing-man. A sheep with sunglasses came along. For USCG HK’s lunar greeting videos from prior years, click here and here.