On the night of July 4th, 400 foreign diplomats and special guests will gather on the top floor of the State Department to watch the famous display of fireworks light up the Washington skyline. A relatively new tradition, the annual Independence Day celebration at the State Department became a regular event under Secretary of State Colin Powell and is hosted by the Department's Office of Protocol.
The event is a chance to engage with the foreign Chiefs of Mission of the embassies in Washington, known as the Diplomatic Corps. Throughout the year, these foreign officials host many cultural events at their embassies, sharing with Americans their countries' food, celebrations, and culture. The Fourth of July is the State Department's opportunity to reciprocate and share American traditions and history with the Diplomatic Corps.
The theme for this year's celebration is "Spirit of America," and the event will include food and drink from different regions of the United States. Guests will enjoy Southern barbecue, oysters from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, chocolate from Virginia, Sam Adams beer from Boston, and spirits from Philadelphia. Private donors and corporations, including the Coca-Cola Company, Mondolez International, and the Chevron Corporation, sponsor the event.
Hospitality and generosity are part of the American national character, so it is no surprise that communities around the United States come together to celebrate the Fourth and share traditions and celebrations with foreign visitors and recent immigrants. It is our honor to do the same, and share the "Spirit of America" with foreign diplomats living in the United States.
About the Author: Jessica Andrews works in the Office of the Chief of Protocol at the Department of State. You can follow the Office of Protocol on Instagram at @us_protocol and on Twitter at @US_Protocol.