July 2, 2011
Friday at the Embassy
I say that so casually, as if, well, we just always hang out at the US Embassy. We're just that cool. Okay, not really. But Friday was a special day, and all US citizens living in Paraguay were invited to attend, not just our little family. We were hosted there for a special flag-raising ceremony in honor of the 235th birthday of these United States. A bit of 4th of July on the 1st of July, since the Embassy is, in fact, a government office, and we know that all government offices will be closed on Monday.
The news said it'd be cloudy and warm, so we planned accordingly. At the early hour that we had to leave the house, there was no way to know what it would really shape up to be. Well, it was C-O-L-D!!! We had to walk quite a ways from our parking spot, then sit under a little awning with the other expats, waiting for the gate to be opened. We shivered. Our teeth chattered. The wind was stiff and the sun was hiding behind some REALLY thick, ominously dark clouds. I felt like such a bad mother for bringing my family out like this in light coats and hoodies.
We were let in after a bit of magic metal-detecting wand waving, and lined up in front of the grassy area to await the ceremony. I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that embassies are officially United States territory, so we were on US soil. To one side was the Paraguayan Presidential band, who came to play a lovely rendition of the national anthem. Behind us was a section of the Paraguayan military who came in a sort of tribute to our big day. Nice, huh?
We heard some nice speeches (short, thankfully), a message from Secretary of State Clinton to US citizens living abroad, and a reading of some patriotic documents. Then some very sharp Marines walked a huge folded flag up to the pole and began the ceremonial unfolding and attaching to the rope. (I'm sure there are real military terms for that, huh?) I have to admit that the sight of our military guys, all uniformed and at attention, does always send a chill of national pride up my spine. I know it's not politically correct to be patriotic, but that's one of the things I kinda hate about our current state of affairs--that patriotism and pride in our country is discouraged. But that's another blog for another day. No ugly comments, please. Back to the Embassy.
It's cold, cloudy, windy, and a bit rainy. The Marines begin to fasten the flag to those little hooks, and the wind stops. The sun comes out. I'm not even kidding. We all stood VERY still and soaked up the sunlight, watching these men carefully handle this symbol of our heritage, our home. It took them a minute or two to get it in position to begin raising it, and as it neared the top, the wind started back up and whipped Old Glory out to show all her stars and stripes. What a moment! Worth every step from the parking area, every shiver of cold, even worth having to get up at an hour that I think is just inhumane. It was beautiful.
After that we were invited to hot chocolate, coffee, cupcakes, and chocolate chip cookies. Yep, chocolate chip cookies. You can't get more American than that, can you? We saw some folks we knew, met some new people, and spent some time talking to the Ambassador. Nice lady.
Caroline insisted on having her picture taken on the red carpet, after which several folks commented on her being a movie star.
It was great to be able to celebrate our Independence Day and remember that we are still one great nation, under God.