Giving Thanks For Friendships, Alliances, and Progress Around the World

13 minutes read time
Happy Thanksgiving
Happy Thanksgiving

Giving Thanks For Friendships, Alliances, and Progress Around the World

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday of each November. It began as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. Today, however, most people celebrate the holiday by gathering with friends and family and reflecting on things they are grateful for.

As families convene today to reflect on the many things they are grateful for, the U.S. Department of State also asked some of its leadership from Washington, DC and around the world to share a few of our own — Here are some highlights:

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"I’m blessed to be leading the finest diplomatic corps in the world. The State Department team puts its heart and soul into the service of our nation. Susan and I appreciate these patriots’ and their families’ commitment to the mission, and wish all Americans a Happy Thanksgiving." 

-Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo

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"I am thankful for our allies and military partners, like these Jordanian fighter pilots, who train with and fight alongside our military to root out terror organizations like ISIS in Syria."

-Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson

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"I have a lot to be thankful for this year, as just last week, I was sworn in as Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. With the support of my wife and children, I am grateful for the opportunity to lead the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and work alongside dedicated Department and interagency colleagues to end modern slavery. I am ready and hopeful that, through the strong and strategic actions of foreign governments, civil society, private companies, faith communities, and survivors of human trafficking working together, we can have a real impact on lives of individuals globally."

 -Ambassador-at-Large for Trafficking in Persons John Cotton Richmond

Ambassador at Large to Combat Human Trafficking John Cotton Richmond is sworn in by U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo.

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"The Thanksgiving holiday offers a chance to reflect and be grateful for America's strong and growing ties with Asia. I am thankful for America's profound and enduring relationships with the larger Indo-Pacific community. Our shared history and ever-expanding people-to-people ties continue to bring us closer together and serve as the cornerstone of peace, prosperity and security."

-Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Walter Douglas

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“I am thankful for our talented Middle East team that is working hard — often in difficult and dangerous conditions, far from their families and loved ones — to ensure that the United States remains safe and secure. ” 

-Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Joan Polaschik

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In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am thankful that we in the United States continue to do our part to support the people of Venezuela as they oppose the failed policies of #Maduro that created this crisis.

- Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Kimberly Breier

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"The U.S. has enjoyed a strong relationship with Bermuda for 400 years. I am grateful for the role Bermuda plays today in managing our insurance and reinsurance risk industry, supporting aviation safety, the operation of a NASA tracking station, conducting critical marine research, encouraging broad cultural exchanges, and strengthening our border security."

- U.S. Consul General Bermuda Constance Dierman

U.S. Consul General of Bermuda Constance Dierman and American officers prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal for a Consulate staff luncheon on November 19.

U.S. Consul General of Bermuda Constance Dierman and American officers prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal for a Consulate staff luncheon on November 19. 

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"I am thankful that in every country on the face of the Earth there are brave souls who fight for the God given rights of their countrymen and women to religion and belief, expression, assembly and association, and to choose their political leaders through free and fair elections. And I am privileged to be a citizen of the United States of America which was founded on those values and stands with those struggling for these rights abroad." 

-Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Kozak

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"Thanksgiving is one of our family's favorite holidays. It's a day for us to pause and count our many blessings, spend precious time with family and friends, and reflect on what we have accomplished throughout the year. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the opportunity to serve as America's Ambassador to the Holy See, and for the remarkable and enduring relationship between the United States and the Vatican - one that, in President Reagan's words, exists "to the benefit of peace-loving people, everywhere."

- U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Callista L. Gingrich

Pope Francis greets U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich in St. Peter's Square, October 3, 2018, during the Opening Mass for the 2018 Synod of Bishops.

Pope Francis greets U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich in St. Peter's Square, October 3, 2018, during the Opening Mass for the 2018 Synod of Bishops.

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"I am grateful for our international partners with whom we have worked together to provide vital humanitarian and stabilization assistance to the Syrian people. Most importantly, though, I am thankful for my colleagues from the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development as well as the men and women of the U.S. military who have dedicated themselves to implementing our assistance and alleviating at least some of the pervasive human suffering in Syria." 

-Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Chris Backemeyer

A Syrian student and her mother engage in an activity aimed at teaching parents coping skills to help their children recover from the trauma of war. (Photos courtesy of Chemonics International)

A Syrian student and her mother engage in an activity aimed at teaching parents coping skills to help their children recover from the trauma of war. (Photo courtesy of Chemonics International)

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"I am thankful for the longstanding relationship between the United States and Poland over the past 100 years and look forward to strengthening it for the next 100 years!"

-U.S. Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher

U.S. Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher greets Polish President Andrzej Duda during her credentialing ceremony in early September 2018.

U.S. Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher greets Polish President Andrzej Duda during her credentialing ceremony in early September 2018.

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"I am thankful for our partners in the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and their efforts to make our world safe and secure from infectious disease outbreaks. We collaborated this year to launch GHSA 2024 and increase the global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats."

 - Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs  Judith Garber

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"I am deeply thankful for our allies and partners and their support for the free and open Indo-Pacific Working through our 43 terrific diplomatic missions across the region, we are proud to stand with nations large and small to ensure a future where all can prosper and thrive. Together, our shared commitment to freedom and equality continues to strengthen a regional order grounded in mutual respect, rule of law, and the principles of free, fair, and reciprocal trade."

-Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Patrick W. Murphy

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"I am thankful that through our NGO partners specializing in the removal of unexploded ordnance, we help save lives around the world. In Vietnam, I met two men, lifelong friends, from the same village in Quang Tri Province. During the war, one went North, the other South. They returned to their village in 1975. What is lush landscape today had burned away and the land was littered in bomb remnants. Because of State's PM support, today kids chase ducks and chickens across cleared ground next door."

-Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson

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I am thankful to be able to join America's close friend and ally, the people of Estonia, in celebrating their hundredth anniversary of independence this year. I want to extend my gratitude to all those who work tirelessly around the world to ensure more people have access to freedom and prosperity for generations to come."

 - Chargé d'Affaires Clifford G. Bond

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"I'm thankful everyday for the tireless work of humanitarian workers who often put their lives on the line to serve those in need worldwide. Through our partnerships with UNHCR, IOM, ICRC, and non-governmental organizations, we are able to assist the world's most vulnerable with basic needs such as food, clean water, shelter, and opportunities for education and livelihoods. During this year's 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, we are particularly thankful for all of our partners working to empower and uplift women and girls in crisis."

- Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Populations Refugees and Migration Carol T. O'Connell

A group of school girls lines up to enter their classroom in Tindouf, Algeria. Classes are mixed with boys and girls, but they form separate lines to enter. The literacy rate in the Tindouf camps is reportedly over 90%, with girls' and boys' rates about the same. In FY 2018, PRM provided $6.9 million to UNHCR to support its work in Algeria. Photographer: Deputy Director for the PRM Africa Assistance Office Wendy Henning.

A group of school girls lines up to enter their classroom in Tindouf, Algeria. Classes are mixed with boys and girls, but they form separate lines to enter. The literacy rate in the Tindouf camps is reportedly over 90%, with girls' and boys' rates about the same. In FY 2018, PRM provided $6.9 million to UNHCR to support its work in Algeria. Photographer: Deputy Director for the PRM Africa Assistance Office Wendy Henning.

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"I am thankful to be representing the United States of America in Uzbekistan at a time when our diplomatic mission has the opportunity to support a reform-minded government working to build a modern state that respects the rights and serves the needs of the Uzbek people." 

- Chargé D'affaires in Tashkent, Uzbekistan Alan Meltzer

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"I'm thankful for passionate Ukrainians who continue to work tirelessly to realize the aspirations of Euromaidan, even in the face of adversity and threats."

- U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch

Late Senator John McCain watches the Euromaidan protests in Kyiv, Ukraine, December 2013.

Late Senator John McCain watches the Euromaidan protests in Kyiv, Ukraine, December 2013.

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"I am grateful for the selfless service of Diplomatic Security personnel around the globe who safeguard America and its interests 24/7." 

- Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security and Director of the Diplomatic Security Service Christian J. Schurman

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"Whether it's judging pies with our friends in Heuvelland during their American Day county fair or sharing a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving at Whitlock Hall in Brussels, I am thankful for the opportunity to share our values and to keep building our longstanding ties with Belgium."

-U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Ronald Gidwitz

U.S. Ambassador Ronald Gidwitz and Mayor Marc Lewyllie, participate in the first-ever American Day celebration in Heuvelland, Belgium, on Sunday, August 26, 2018.

U.S. Ambassador Ronald Gidwitz and Mayor Marc Lewyllie, participate in the first-ever American Day celebration in Heuvelland, Belgium, on Sunday, August 26, 2018.

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"I am thankful for the 26 years of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Armenia, and our continued friendship. I appreciate that we have been able to work with the government to root out corruption and promote transparency, democracy and rule of law, measures which will improve the business environment and increase opportunities for U.S. investment and bilateral trade. I am particularly thankful to share this year's Thanksgiving with the people of Armenia, at a time when they have made clear to the world their aspirations for a brighter, more prosperous future."

-  Chargé d'Affaires, U.S. Embassy Yerevan, Rafik Mansour

Embassy Yerevan's Chargé d'Affaires Rafik Mansour greets newly appointed Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. Varuzhan Nersesyan during National Security Advisor John Bolton's recent visit to Armenia.

Embassy Yerevan's Chargé d'Affaires Rafik Mansour greets newly appointed Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. Varuzhan Nersesyan during National Security Advisor John Bolton's recent visit to Armenia.

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"I am particularly thankful for the incredible energy and innovation that young people in Tajikistan have demonstrated at the eight American Spaces across the country. These students and young professionals are gaining lifelong skills in web and mobile app design, robotics, English language, and journalism to build a better future. And it turns out they have a hidden passion for baseball! I'm thankful that we can provide spaces for these future leaders to make their country a better place."

Charge D'Affaires in Dushanbe, Tajikistan Kevin Covert

Students participate in activities in American Spaces in Tajikistan

Students participate in activities in American Spaces in Tajikistan.

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"I am very thankful for the steadily improving relations with Belarus and its people."

-U.S. Embassy Minsk Charge d'Affaires Jenifer Moore

Jenifer Moore, Charge d'Affaires, U.S. Embassy Minsk speaks at a USAID event.

Jenifer Moore, Charge d'Affaires, U.S. Embassy Minsk speaks at a USAID event.

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"On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful to be able to look back at another year of serving in Sweden, a close partner for the United States with deep roots in American life, including in my own family. I am grateful as I reflect on our work together to make the transatlantic region and our world more secure and more prosperous."

- Chargé d'Affaires at U.S. Embassy Stockholm David Lindwall

Chargé d'Affaires David Lindwall welcomes guests at the 2018 4th of July celebration at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm.

Chargé d'Affaires David Lindwall welcomes guests at the 2018 4th of July celebration at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm.

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"I'm thankful for U.S. defense companies who manufacture the best equipment in the world, and who are, through our Foreign Military Sales & Direct Commercial Sales, critical partners in international security."

-Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson

 

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A video message from Ambassador Jon Huntsman, U.S. Ambassador to Russia:

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"I'm grateful to be back with the men and women of Diplomatic Security, a law enforcement organization that I truly love and respect. I take great pride in working with my colleagues at home and abroad who support our critical mission." 

- Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security   Michael T. Evanoff

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"I am thankful for all the contributions to our joint efforts made by our diverse group of partners in government, the private sector and the NGO sector in Denmark. The time spent together, working towards common objectives, demonstrates the depth of friendship between our two nations. At the end of the day, it's not only about what we've accomplished, it's about the relationships that we form along the way."

- U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands

U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands hosts a Thanksgiving lunch for key contacts from across Danish society, November 20, 2018

U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands hosts a Thanksgiving lunch for key contacts from across Danish society, November 20, 2018.

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"I am thankful for the U.S.-UK security partnership. This year we worked jointly with the UK on the F35 program, welcomed HMS Queen Elizabeth to New York, and stood together to remember 100 years since the end of the First World War. The U.S.-UK relationship remains vital to our shared security and we have no better friend."
-U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Woody Johnson

The American plot at the Westminster Abbey Field of Remembrance to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, November 11, 2018, London, UK.

The American plot at the Westminster Abbey Field of Remembrance to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, November 11, 2018, London, UK.

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"This Thanksgiving I'm thankful for the strong and enduring partnership between the United States and the European Union. The transatlantic relationship is like a family relationship: we have our ups and downs, but what unites us - our shared history, values, heritage and culture - are much greater than what divides us."

- U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland

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It’s been an eventful year, and as you read, we have a lot to be thankful for. We are grateful for the partnerships and programs that have moved U.S. foreign policy forward this year and made a difference in the lives of people around the globe. Happy Thanksgiving from the U.S. Department of State.

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.