Secretary Clinton's 4th of July MessageAbout the Author: Kallie Knutson serves at the U.S. Mission to the European Union.
The annual Fourth of July celebration is special in Brussels. It is a “tri-Mission” event, noting that Brussels is home to three official U.S. representations, the U.S. Mission to NATO, the U.S. Mission to the European Union, and , of course, the United States Embassy to the Kingdom of Belgium. Accordingly, our celebration gathers guests from 27 member states of the EU and 28 members of NATO (many of which they share in common), and many celebrants from Belgian government, non-profit, academic, and media organizations. Brussels is also home to more than 1,000 international media and the largest number of think tanks in a single European city! This makes for an incredibly multi-cultural July 4.
For this year’s theme, we selected “Chicago” to show off a great American city and express support for its bid for the 2016 Olympics. But how does one reflect the vibrant spirit of Chicago in a party at the Ambassador’s residence in Belgium? The party planning committee thought big. After much preparation and inevitable last-minute adjustments, stunning 9-square meter photos of Chicago, highlighting Chicago’s past and present, adorned the 18th century residence, and an expanded banner of the Chicago skyline is neighbor to the Park Royal. Suspended at rue Zinner, it displayed to passersby our pride in a great American city and our celebration of our nation’s birth.
In-house, the unique character of a tri-Mission event was also in high evidence. Which Ambassador or Chargé speaks first on the program? In what order should the band play the various anthems? How many invitations does each mission send out? Procurement, construction, assembly, and securing the necessary donations further kept us busy. The party planners were a diverse set — political officers, local employees, public affairs officers, economic officers, management specialists, and interns — and through planning for this event, we discovered new ways to get in touch with our creative sides in celebrating the United States and Chicago with Brussels.
The final reception on July 2 at rue Zinner was a hit, as more than 500 guests marked our holiday and recalled their own special — and quite varied — memories of the United States: studies at our universities, tours of duty at military, diplomatic, or media postings, business exchanges, or driving down Route 66 with a special “Route 66” tie to prove it.