Greetings and Celebrations: Happy 240th Independence Day #America

Posted: 12:16 pm PT
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Back home, the State Department will host a fair for the diplomatic community in D.C. Deep-fried Oreos apparently included. Photos please!

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Burn Bag: US Embassy Madrid’s Wise Use of Taxpayer Funded Employee Time?

Via Burn Bag:

“Last year and the year before, Embassy Madrid hosted the biggest (or one of the biggest) July 4th celebration with roughly 4,000 guests.  Plans for this year call for a bigger celebration.  Wise use of taxpayer funded employee time?”

Madrid_4Juk16

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Happy 239th Birthday America! #July4inJune

Posted: 2:14 am  EDT
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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

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US Embassy Cairo, Egypt with Ambassador R. Stephen Beecroft

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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

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

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

US Embassy Dushanbe, Tajikistan/FB

U.S. Embassy Algiers, Algeria with Ambassador Joan A. Polaschik

US Embassy Algiers/FB

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 KL/FB

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:

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US Embassies Move Fourth of July For Heat, Monsoon Weather, and Now For Ramadan — Read Before Getting Mad

–Posted: 12:12 pm EDT
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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  Photo credit: State Dept./Erik A. Kurniawan

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 that heat is 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.”

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Related posts:

Open Season: This Year’s July 4th Independence Day Celebrations Officially On

— Domani Spero

Actually no, the season officially opened last month when U.S. Embassy Kathmandu celebrated the 238th Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America on February 22, 2014. Nepal’s Vice President Paramananda Jha was the main guest at the event.  According to Ambassador Peter W. Bodde’s prepared speech, this was the second year the embassy celebrated July 4th early “in the hopes of escaping monsoon weather.”  Also, they chose this week “because in February we honor the birthdays of two of our great presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.” Eleven members of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force Band based in Okinawa, Japan entertained the guests at the chief of mission residence. More photos are available here.

Photo via US Embassy Nepal

Photo via US Embassy Nepal

Photo via US Embassy Nepal February 21, 2014

Photo via US Embassy Nepal
February 21, 2014

 

So, US Embassy Nepal had officially bumped off US Embassy Muscat for the first July 4th celebration of 2014.  On March 25, 2014, the US Embassy in Oman hosted its 238th Independence Day event.  According to ONA, Greta Christine Holtz, the US ambassador to the Sultanate gave a speech during which she affirmed the deep-rooted relations binding Omanis and Americans.  In 2013, the embassy celebrated July 4th on May 24. More photos available here. In 2012, we did, Chew on This: US Embassy Oman Celebrates 4th of July (in February) with Fast Food Sponsors.  It looks like they no longer display prominently the event’s corporate sponsors.

Photo via US Embassy Muscat

Photo via US Embassy Muscat

 

This year, we hope to do a Fourth of July fashion or food round-up.  Give us a heads up if you have something interesting at post.

 

 

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US Embassy Kuwait Celebrates 4th of July (in March) with Generous But Unnamed Sponsors

Our Ambassador to Kuwait, Mathew H. Tueller hosted the embassy’s 4th of July celebration during what is called the U.S. National Day on March 12, 2012. Below is an excerpt from his remarks:

[T]his Embassy is focused on strengthening the U.S.-Kuwaiti relationship by opening doors for the people of Kuwait.  Our Consular and Public Affairs officers organize events where we advise Kuwaiti students on study options in the United States.  Over 3000 Kuwaiti students studied in the U.S. last year and we hope to see that number grow.  Our Public Affairs officers plan regular speaker programs in which embassy staff lead discussions with Kuwaiti students on American culture and other topics.  We pride ourselves on the efficiency and courtesy with which our Consular Section processed more than 30,000 visa applications for Kuwaitis this past year.  Our Commercial Services and Economic Sections are focused on promoting expanded trade with your booming economy. My staff and I look forward to all the future opportunities we will have to strengthen relations with all of you, and with a Kuwait that is advancing confidently toward a better tomorrow.

Now, thanks to the generosity of all our sponsors, we have some marvelous American food and some wonderful Kuwaiti entertainment to share with you this evening.

The embassy has a Flickr account that has not been updated since October 2011. So we can only locate one photo of Ambassador Tueller cutting the gigantic birthday cake. A bad photo that looks like the folks in the picture have all been squeezed from the top.

Ambassador Tueller cutting the 236th Independence Day gigantic cake with a few buddies (Photo from US Embassy Kuwait)

Unfortunately for the sponsors, the US embassy forgot to mention all their names in the prepared remarks. It also failed to acknowledge them in the official USG website. So we have no idea who were these generous sponsors, except that they made it possible for the embassy to serve “marvelous American food.”

Two quick thoughts – one, was this celebration another exhibit of fast food nation?

Also, we feel bad for the lowest diplomat in the totem pole who will be tasked with recruiting sponsors for next year’s celebration.  If I were a sponsor, I would not/not consider this an excellent return of investment, would you?

Domani Spero

Chew on This: US Embassy Oman Celebrates 4th of July (in February) with Fast Food Sponsors

We’re late on this but last month, the US Embassy in Oman celebrated the 236th year of the independence of the United States of America. We were once told that heat is the reason for these early 4th of July  celebrations at various overseas posts, even at one EUR post. And we bought that until we saw then Ambassador Eikenberry eating ice cream at a 4th of July in Kabul.

Here is a note from Ambassador Richard J. Schmierer via FB:

The U.S. Embassy marked the 236th year of the Independence of the United States of America with a festive celebration on the Embassy grounds on February 28, 2012. Timed in conjunction with the U.S. President’s Day holiday which is celebrated each February, the event featured a ceremony by the Embassy’s Marine Color Guard and food and beverages from ten American franchise outlets. I had the honor of welcoming the official delegation of the Government of the Sultanate of Oman, led by the Honorable Shaikh Khalid bin Sultan bin Saif al-Hosni of the Majlis al-Dowla, and the Chief of Protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, His Highness Sayyid Mohammed bin Salim al Said (pictured center and right above). The event highlighted this year’s 40th anniversary of the establishment of the first U.S. Embassy in Oman, which was opened on November 1, 1972 on the seafront in Old Muscat. More than 500 guests joined us for this year’s celebration.

The embassy’s Flickr account includes two sets from the event including 564 photos here, and 150 photos here. Unfortunately, both sets are photo dumps with none of the photos appropriately labeled.

Even with no captions, the photos below are clear as day, of course, since they all feature popular American fast foods. The brief explanation above makes it sound like the fast foods were on exhibit, doesn’t it?

Ambassador and Mrs. Richard J. Schmierer
Photo from US Embassy Muscat/Flickr

Ambassador and Mrs. Richard J. Schmierer
Photo from US Embassy Muscat/Flickr

Ambassador and Mrs. Richard J. Schmierer
Photo from US Embassy Muscat/Flickr

Ambassador and Mrs. Richard J. Schmierer
Photo from US Embassy Muscat/Flickr

Ambassador and Mrs. Richard J. Schmierer
Photo from US Embassy Muscat/Flickr

Ambassador and Mrs. Richard J. Schmierer
Photo from US Embassy Muscat/Flickr

Ambassador and Mrs. Richard J. Schmierer
Photo from US Embassy Muscat/Flickr

We’re missing three sponsors.  We think the more appropriate term should really be sponsors since these American fast food outlets served food and beverages to 500 guests during the Independence Day event.

This is a troubling trend that seem to have started in the 1990’s when embassy officers were sent out to recruit sponsors for the embassy’s July 4th celebration.   It this sounds cheap, well, because it is …. especially if you’re the designated diplomat with the begging bowl. We heard that it’s not fun, but that if you’re good at it, they let you put it in your EER.

Domani Spero