Secretary Clinton's 4th of July MessageAbout the Author: Evelyn Boettcher serves as a Public Affairs Section Intern at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
The July 4th Reception was held on June 26, 2009; it was the first such celebration at Embassy Beijing's new compound, which opened last summer. This year’s celebration focused on showcasing the diversity of American life with the theme: "We the People of the United States."
Route 66 style road signs led more than 700 guests on a road trip across America highlighting four distinct regional cuisines and cultures. The embassy's atrium hosted the "New Orleans Gumbo Shop," where guests sampled traditional gumbo while listening to contemporary American music ranging from Frank Sinatra to Aaron Copland. A "California Wine Tasting Lounge" offered samples of six California wines as jazz music from the State Department’s “The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad” CD played softly in the background. The Cherry Garden of the embassy was transformed into "Coney Island Carnival" -- bringing the legendary New York area to the international guests. Kansas City barbeque came hot off the grill outside on our embassy patio with live music from the Woodie Alan Blues Band. A highlight of the afternoon occurred when Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Bill Weinstein joined the band onstage with his harmonica.
The official program featured the embassy’s Marine Security Detachment presenting the colors and Chinese and American national anthems being performed a capella by the Beijing Playhouse Choir. With the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun standing just a few feet away, Charge d’ Affairs Dan Piccuta first introduced Secretary Clinton who spoke to us via videotaped message. Charge Piccuta reminded everyone in the soaring atrium of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing of the democratic principles upon which our nation was founded. He emphasized the ideal that forms the basis of our democracy: the fundamental value of a government elected by and for the people. Piccuta said that in the history of our country, our ideals of freedom of speech, thought and action were at one time denied to many citizens based on their race or gender. But what makes America great, Piccuta said, is that Americans find the strength to admit when we are wrong and seek to correct mistakes from the past. He toasted the achievements of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by saying that they are symbols of the diversity, strength and freedom that can be found in the United States.
Our embassy also prominently displayed booths commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing and Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics. Guests could even pose for pictures on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle painted with an American flag! But despite all the fun that we had, our primary message to visitors was that the United States is built on diversity, strength and freedom. These values written in our Constitution and Bill of Rights --- those of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness --- are the values that "We the People of the United States," here at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, chose to highlight this Fourth of July, 2009.