Under the brilliant sunshine, our wonderful Embassy community came together yesterday afternoon to celebrate the Fourth of July. It was a day filled with warm laughter, deep pride and a real sense of family, even among a crowd that reached 600! Watching my husband, the Ambassador, walk tall and proud alongside our U.S. Marines in full garb as they presented the colors of the flag was an incredibly moving moment that will always symbolize American pride and values of liberty for me. The theme of our event was “Sweet Home Chicago” and we filled the Ambassadorial residence with all things associated with the “windy city” including a personal video message from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel honoring American Independence Day and the strong imprint Swedish immigrants have had on the city. You can see the video here.
The story of Chicago and its proud citizens has always symbolized the story of the American dream to me. Coming to America carried with it a promise of opportunity, of hope and the freedom to be yourself and be embraced for your individuality, and that is what the celebration of the Fourth of July is all about.
Like many Chicagoans, I am the daughter of immigrants. Growing up, our family always made July 4th a huge celebration. I remember neighborhood barbecues where Mexican-Americans, Indian-Americans and Polish-Americans would share beers and hot dogs, and tell the story of their American dream. These stories would often involve incredible early hardships, followed by hard work and success. I often remember hearing the words, “only in America could I have given my children this kind of life.” It was a special source of pride to have my mother present at this event to honor the sacrifices she made as someone who come to America with nothing and gave me everything.
In order to convey the Chicago narrative, we turned each room in the residence into a specific element that makes Chicago unique. We had ethnic foods as part of the iconic “Taste of Chicago celebration that honors the multi-cultural make-up of the city, Chicago art, jazz music and architecture through an expansive sun-drenched skyline and the “Chicago bean” made of 5,000 flowers. A 1920s Chicago “Speakeasy” filled the formal dining room, and Chicago history enveloped our library displaying a timeline celebrating Chicago’s 175th birthday and facts on decades of global immigration into the city.
And of course, we celebrated Chicago Sports in our “Wrigleyville Sports Bar” room with special memorabilia from the White Sox, Chicago Bears, Chicago Bulls and Chicago Black Hawks.
The entire event was a great success and lasted far into the early evening as both Swedes and Americans shared stories about family, friends and of course, their love of Chicago! Mark and I were so personally honored by the creativity and hard work the entire Embassy community put in to make our vision of Chicago a reality. Thank you U.S. Embassy Stockholm for your support and friendship, this is a Fourth of July memory we will carry with us for the rest of our lives!