Tag Archives: Sweden

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Celebrating U.S.-Swedish Business Ties: The Opening of Claire’s in Farsta!

Where did you get your ears pierced?

If you’re an American girl that came of age between the 1980s through today the likely answer is Claire’s. The accessories juggernaut has been a bedazzling utopia for young girls over the decades, and certainly was for me. I remember so vividly begging my mother to take me to Chicago Ridge Mall on the southwest side of the city to buy faux-pearl and lace chokers and fingerless black gloves so I could look cool at the 8th grade school dance (hey, it was the 1990s everyone wanted to dress like Madonna!).

All of these positive childhood memories came to the surface when I was asked to help inaugurate the first Claire’s store in Scandinavia. It was a true honor to cut the ribbon for an American company founded in 1961 in my hometown of Chicago.

The first store in Sweden is located in Farsta, about twenty minutes outside of Stockholm, and was where the ribbon-cutting ceremony took place. In addition to the opening, Claire’s revealed a sleek new style. Gone were the thick black carpets and heavy décor, and in its place a lighter, more accessible space that showcased the colorful glitter, beads and sequins dotting the walls even better.

The values that underpin the concept— promoting self-confidence and pride in young girls at an affordable price for all— is compelling and egalitarian. Every little girl and teenager deserves to feel beautiful no matter who she is and where she is from, and Claire’s has helped make that happen for many years. There’s also something special about a brand that can be interwoven into a young person’s coming-of-age story. Every girl remembers when and where she got her ears pierced. And most of those girls will connect that positive experience to a positive brand.

Connecting around shared values of accessibility, transparency, empowerment and sustainability (among many others) are pillars of the U.S.-Swedish commercial relationship which has always been strong, and I’ll argue has never been stronger than it is today.

The trading relationship between our two nations is valued over $25 billion annually.  Even more striking are the figures that illustrate our relationship in business investment.  Over the years, Swedish companies have invested over $40 billion in the U.S., creating about 176,000 jobs.  In fact, Sweden is the 12th largest investor in the U.S. and among the very top investors on a per capita basis!

Business to business connectivity between the United States and Sweden is so vibrant and it’s always a pleasure when we can highlight that. Thanks Bjorn Krasse and the Claire’s Nordic team for including me in the opening! Looking forward to more occasions celebrating U.S-Swedish commercial ties!

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Diplomacy in a new Communications Era: U.S. Embassy ranked #3 “super communicator” in all of Sweden!

We now live in the most hyper-connected, global moments of history where all people have a voice and multiple platforms to share their voice and values.

Mark, I and the Embassy team are firm believers in bringing diplomacy into this new communications era. The speed and incredible reach of the Internet and social media has changed how we all interact with each other. Unparalleled amounts of new perspectives have been brought into the ongoing dialogue on how we address the challenges of our time.

Communications and public diplomacy is more important than ever before. And that’s why we were especially honored and proud to be named by Resume Magazine as Sweden’s #3 (out of 150) best communicators— “Superkommunikatörer”— in all of Sweden. In addition to the award, Mark and I were incredibly honored to be asked to present on the U.S. Embassy’s communications strategy, and how we work with the fantastic Embassy team to reach as many people as possible.

We discussed the four principles that form the foundation of our communication:

1.      The power to convene
2.       Listening, not talking
3.       Transparency
4.       Using the unexpected to highlight shared values

The two areas I covered were “the power to convene” and “listening and not talking.” Mark and I often say that our favorite thing we hear when people come to an Embassy event at our residence: “I’ve never been here before”, “I never thought I’d be invited to an Ambassador’s residence”, and best of all “I never knew what really what an Ambassador, his/her spouse and an Embassy did until now.”

Having the ability to “convene” and create a safe space where diverse people can come together and speak openly, freely without judgment on difficult issues is extremely powerful. The Embassy and I see it as our mission to reach out to as many different stakeholders as possible. Needless to say, it’s not just about us inviting people over and talking at them.

The most exciting thing about diplomacy for me is learning from each other and finding common ground on challenges ranging from sustainability to gender equality. That’s done through listening and not talking.

President Obama is a leader who presciently identified this new strain of global connectivity and has focused on inclusivity, partnership and a new role for America in the world. As President he has uplifted and engaged people and groups who have not traditionally been engaged. At the Embassy the concept of reaching out to all citizens— minorities, new immigrants, women, youth, the LGBT community— is a central priority that’s reflected in the Embassy’s “Diversity Dialogues”, Youth Councils, women’s empowerment initiatives and entrepreneurship focused on immigrant entrepreneurship. In fact, all Embassy initiatives are informed by tolerance, openness, transparency and inclusion.

Thank you Resume for recognizing our hard work! And thank you U.S. Embassy Sweden for the hard work, support, intelligent guidance and leadership on this issue! This award is for all of us!

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Spotlight on Women in Tech: Promoting Girls in Science, Engineering & Entrepreneurship

Harnessing the talents and creativity of men and women, young and old, of the gay community and all ethnic backgrounds is the key to innovation and a better world. Diversity is the bedrock for entrepreneurship and innovation, and central to “winning the future” as President Obama has said.

The inclusion of historically underrepresented minorities in science, engineering and technology fields, such as women, is a priority of the Obama Administration and a personal passion of mine.  That’s why I was so happy and honored to be included in a dynamic and thought-provoking conference organized by Sweden’s MTG in partnership with Spotify and Google.

The conference was held in the same cavernous room that the U.S. Embassy held its large election event in 2012 which brought President Barack Obama to victory! Just stepping inside and remembering the energy and inspiration from that day gave me great motivation for the panel I would speak on focusing on innovation.

Cristina Stenbeck, the incredibly articulate 36-year-old global chairman of MTG and Kinnevik, launched the conference with inspiring words on a future global vision of a digitalized, highly-integrated tech world as well as why and how her companies have been successful in vales-based leadership and gender equality. The rest of the day featured discussions by female senior leaders from Google and Spotify, as well as both male and female entrepreneurs on what works in creating a sustainable company and disrupting markets with innovation.

I’ve so enjoyed learning about Sweden’s innovative startup ecosystem and exploring ways we can amplify shared values through innovation and entrepreneurship. Learning from each other is one of the most exciting parts of diplomacy. At the Embassy, we’ve been able to bring people together to openly discuss issues such as gender equality, multiculturalism and diversity, and how we can use entrepreneurship as a tool for empowerment. This was the basis for my panel remarks at the Women in Tech 2014 conference.

Immigrants or their children have founded 40% of our country’s Fortune 500 companies including some of America’s most iconic brands like Google, Intel, eBay and Yahoo. Diversity in all forms—  in gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation— is key to continuing the thriving levels of innovation in both of our countries.

Women are breaking down barriers today in science and technology. 25% of IT jobs are held by women today and the percentage of females choosing to study science and engineering is increasing, a trend that the President is promoting through a national STEM campaign.

Having the opportunity to live and engage in Sweden has been the honor of a life-time for Mark and me. To work with such a talented U.S. Embassy team in such an innovative and country has been incredibly rewarding and we look so much forward to new and interesting collaborations with our friends the Swedes. We look so forward to advancing diversity, innovation and gender equality together with you! The best is yet to come!

Check out this video highlighting women in tech and the efforts of U.S. Embassy Sweden in innovation and diversity!

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Commitment to Corporate Gender Equality: International Women’s Day 2014!

There’s no more inspiring way to celebrate International Women’s Day than bringing together passionate professionals around shared values. Open dialogue, listening and a spirited exchange of lessons learned is integral to moving the dial on diversity in the workplace and honoring the spirit of this great day dedicated to uplifting womanhood.

This is precisely what U.S. Embassy Sweden did on Friday when the deputy chief of mission, Bob Gilchrist, and I hosted a targeted dialogue for Swedish businessmen and businesswomen who are already working to make change in their companies when it comes to diversity. The positive energy in the room makes me so confident that we will reach unparalleled levels of diversity in the workplace are just on the horizon. The goal of the event was to move beyond rhetoric and words, to substantive actions and tangible results. And to help equip businesspeople with a cutting-edge new way to frame this challenge, and the metrics and models that might help solve it for good.

The focus was Edge Certification, a game-changing new methodology aimed at working with large companies to create, meet and sustain gender targets in all levels of the company. Edge certification is analogous to LEED certification on gender versus environmental aspects. Like LEED, Edge provides a globally-recognized branding that a company is embracing diversity and taking steps to be an employer that attracts and sustains top talent, and leans forward on becoming a company of the future. In order to help explain Edge, we were privileged to have two dynamic keynote speakers: Simona Scarpalegia, the CEO of IKEA Switzerland, and Maria Oldin, the managing director of Edge.

The business case for more women at the top is undeniable: more creativity and innovation, better decision-making, better bottom-lines and share-holders’ returns, and even cheaper mergers and greater transparency. Women’s economic empowerment is a priority of the U.S. Embassy and of President Obama who gave an impassioned call to action on the issue most recently in this year’s State of the Union Address.

“You know, she deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship. And you know what, a father does too. It is time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode. This year let’s all come together, Congress, the White House, businesses from Wall Street to Main Street, to give every woman the opportunity she deserves, because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds.”- President Barack Obama

In Sweden we have an enthusiastic and accomplished partner in this realm. 27% of companies in Sweden have female board members compared with 12% for other industrialized countries. Representation of women in Sweden’s parliament is well above the average for industrialized countries at 45% & 13 of Sweden’s 24 Cabinet Ministers are female.

That being said, women’s corporate leadership is historically still a new phenomenon. In many cases, we’re still working in conventionally-designed workplace structures and organizations tailored to a traditionally “male” definition of success and what a career arc should look like. But I believe we’re at a moment of truth for diversity in all forms! Right now what it means to be a leader, what a means to be a good corporate citizen and a sustainable company is changing and that change will bring greater openness and equality.

This new way of thinking about diversity is what Edge certification is leading the way on. Thank you Maria Oldin and Simona Scarpaleggia for flying in from Switzerland just to join us! A special thanks to Megan Beyer, a fellow “Ambassador’s spouse”, who spearheaded this issue when her husband was the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland. Megan, thank you for tracking me down in Chicago over the holidays and opening my eyes to Edge!

A special thanks to Bob and the entire Embassy team here in Sweden who is so committed to the promotion of human rights and civil rights: from the LGBT community to women’s equality and multiculturalism. It’s so inspiring to work under their passionate leadership on these equality issues!

Running in Sweden with the US Marines!

marinesToday I had the honor of running with terrific men and women of the US Marine detachment at Embassy Stockholm.  For me, it’s almost like a dream, as I remember from a very young age having such admiration for the Corps.  I remember when I was very young going to a presentation of the colors at the Marine Corps Barracks in Washington DC, and simply admiring the discipline, poise, presence and leadership of these men and women.  Now decades later, I have the honor to serve along side the Marines.  And so it was just terrific for me personally to join our Marines on an almost five mile run around Stockholm today, listening to the Staff Sergeant as he plans to run the Marine Corps Marathon, and talk with the detachment about some of the plans we have for this year.  Bottom line:  To me there is something incredibly special about the sacrifice, fortitude and character of our Marines. They stand guard for us at Post 1 all day and all night, every day. They of course keep us secure – that is priority one. But whenever we see them, in colors or in fatigues, they remind each of us of the incredible sacrifice, the immeasurable sacrifice, that our young people who join the military make every day to keep the rest of us secure and free.  If that is not inspiration enough to just “bring it” in one’s day job, I don’t know what is.

Thank you Marines for letting me join you on today’s run!  I am so proud to stand next to you in our respective calls for duty. Semper Fi!

Visit by Attorney General Eric Holder to Sweden: America Stands for a More Just and Inclusive World

Ambassador Brzezinski and Attorney General Holder.

Ambassador Brzezinski and Attorney General Holder.

US Embassy Stockholm was thrilled to welcome to Sweden this week the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder.  The symbolic significance of the visit was clear:  To our knowledge, no sitting U.S. Attorney General has ever visited Sweden.  The visit was built around what America and Sweden have in common, and what we can learn from each other.  After all, democracy rests on the rule of law.  We can learn a lot from each other as democracies, as we confront and address new legal problems.

The visit began with the Attorney General meeting our Embassy team.   After getting a briefing from our country team, the Attorney General spent time with our U.S. Marines, taking the time to take individual photos with each.  We all know how busy he is, and it was just really classy and generous for him to share his time with our servicemen and women.  After that, we had bilateral meetings on international law enforcement issues.  Democracies are strengthened when we work together, and engagements like this are such an important part of learning from each other.

In the afternoon, the Attorney General gave an absolutely terrific speech in the old chamber of the Swedish Parliament, clarifying what we Americans stand for:  the fight for equality, human dignity and civil rights.  A link to the speech , which was entitled “A More Just and Inclusive Wrold:  Confronting the Civil Rights Challenges of our Time” can be found here.

Mrs. Natalia Brzezinski together with Gloria Ray Karlmark.

Mrs. Natalia Brzezinski together with Gloria Ray Karlmark.

Among the most poignant and moving parts of the speech was when Attorney General Holder talked about America’s struggle for civil rights and equality, our country’s legal steps, from the Equal Pay Act of 1963, to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which step by step advanced civil rights in America.  When the Attorney General discussed the “countless passionate citizens and courageous young people like the Little Rock Nine – who, in 1957, braved bigotry and threats of violence to become the first African-American students to attend Little Rock Central High School, in Arkansas,” he referred specifically to one of the original members of the Little Rock Nine, who was sitting in the audience in Parliament, Gloria Ray Karlmark.  The Attorney General said  how incredibly honored we were to have her with us there, as she had  helped to open a new, but too long in coming, age of inclusion and opportunity.  The Attorney General then spoke off script, but for us all, when he said, “Gloria paved the way for me.”   That was an incredible moment that I will never forget.  After the speech, the Attorney General met Gloria Ray Karlmark in the hall and they embraced, recognizing each other for the historical figures they are.

Attorney General Holder speaks.

Attorney General Holder speaks.

The Attorney General has great credibility speaking on this topic.  Not only is he the top law enforcement official of the United States, his entire professional life reflects a commitment to this cause.  Already, as a student at Columbia Law School in New York, Attorney General Holder worked for the Legal Defense Fund of the NAACP, the largest and oldest civil rights organization in the United States.  Following graduation, he began his long career at the Department of Justice.   Working in the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section in 1976, he was tasked to investigate and prosecute official corruption on the local, state and federal levels.

Later, as a U.S. Attorney in Washington, he pulled together attorneys, their staffs and diverse communities to build communication between law enforcement officials and underrepresented communities.  In 1997, President Clinton appointed Mr. Holder Deputy Attorney General, the first African-American named to that post.

In 2008, President Obama nominated him to be Attorney General, the first African-American named to that post as well.  Since becoming Attorney General, he has continued his strong advocacy for civil and human rights.

To me, the shared value between the United States and Sweden that most closely links us is a shared commitment to fight for human dignity and equality and for what is just.  It was an incredible honor to listen to Attorney General Holder remind all of us, Americans, Swedes, and others from around the world, of what we stand for.  Read the speech, you will see what I mean.

Thank you, Attorney General, for your wonderful engagement in Sweden!

3M’s Inge Thulin—A True Businessman Statesman

Today the US Embassy hosted our second “Businessman Statesman Lunch Series.”  The formulation “Businessman Statesman” refers to businesspeople who advance the public interest by constructively engaging in the market place of ideas and operating as a good corporate leader.  A Businessman Statesman understands the overlay between the commercial context and the strategic context.  The Obama Administration is working to maximize the potential of collaboration with business leaders to address the challenges of our times.

The US Embassy’s first Businessman Statesman, Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE and former Chairman of the White House’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, addressed a luncheon in his honor last May on the topic of the proposed US-EU Free Trade Agreement, called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.  See a YouTube interview I did with Jeff Immelt immediately following that lunch.

Our second  Businessman Statesman, Inge Thulin, CEO of 3M Corporation, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, is a leader who fully personifies that concept.  Inge has been a 3M employee for 34 years and is a visionary in innovation.  3M’s new Innovation Center just of the E4 outside of Stockholm in Sollentuna is one of more than 50 3M innovation Centers around the world.  Over the next several years, an even greater percentage of 3M’s revenue will be devoted to research and development, with an increase of $30 million anticipated between now and 2017 alone.

Innovation is not just about technology development.  It’s about improving the human condition.  It’s about looking not just at the bottom line, but on how to advance sustainability and job creation.  Last year, a cover of the Economist magazine asked “what can the world learn from the Nordics?”  Innovation is certainly part of the answer to that question.

Inge shared his experience and perspectives with a remarkable group of business people who we assembled, from a variety of industries.  He discussed how one fosters the entrepreneurial culture you find in a start-up in a large multi-national corporation.  He described how innovation is fostered in different regions of the world, and he explained 3M’s initiative called “Customer Inspired Innovation”, and how 3M intends to deploy its increase in R&D spending to 6 % of revenue.  He also shared insights in to his leadership style, and how that fits in the modern paradigm of changing leadership styles.

Congratulations to Inge Thulin, Chairman of 3M Corporation, on being the US Embassy’s second Businessman Statesman.  Thank you for sharing your vision on innovation with us today!

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The Nobel Prize: Talent Knows No Borders

This week, Natalia and I had the extraordinary honor of welcoming nine American Nobel Prize winners to Sweden. Each of these Americans has made a key benefit to the human condition. To honor them, we hosted a reception in which we invited over 200 Swedes, Americans and friends from around the world to salute their contribution to scientific progress.

In my remarks at the reception, I specifically invoked the fact that both America and Sweden are immigrant rich as a shared value and a key to our success.

Here is the text of my remarks:

FULL TEXT OF REMARKS

Your excellencies, Nobel Laureates, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you all for joining us today to honor American recipients of the 2013 Nobel Prizes.  

This reception is the U.S. Embassy’s way of celebrating the accomplishments, the creativity, the scholarship, of the nine Americans who have won Nobel Prizes this year.  

Before I continue, I would like to ask all of you to join me in a moment of silence to recognize one of the most courageous, inspirational and greatest leaders, and Nobel laureates, of our time and, in fact of any time, Nelson Mandela.

(moment of silence)

Like those here who will receive the Nobel Prize, Nelson Mandela’s dedication to improving humanity embodied the principles of the Nobel Prize.   I would like to take just a few minutes to salute each individually.

Sharing the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine: James Rothman, Randy Schekman, and Thomas Südhof.

Sharing the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt, and Arieh Warshel.

The 2013 Nobel Prize for Economics is shared by Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen, and Robert Shiller.

The American prize-winners have illuminated scientists’ understanding of how cells operate in the brain; enabled the simulation and modeling of complex sub-atomic-scale chemical reactions; and reshaped the way economists understand market prices and “bubbles.”

The results of this research are not just for the benefit of Americans; it is to the benefit of all of humankind.

Each of you is an inspiration to us. Each of you has made a key benefit to the human condition.  

Congratulations to you today.  We are so proud of you. (Applause)

It is a huge honor for Natalia and me to open our home and pay tribute to your hard work, your life long quest, your accomplishments and deserved success.

As U.S. Ambassador to Sweden for the past two years, it is such a profound honor for me to meet and welcome the incredible Americans who have won the Nobel Prize, including the Nobel Peace Prize winner who visited us in September, President Barack Obama.

Quite appropriately, President Obama’s visit to Sweden emphasized great science.  The Embassy offered many scenarios to the President regarding how he would spend his time in Sweden.  

But on his first visit to this land of Nobel, the President insisted on focusing on the science and innovation coming out of Sweden that can better the human condition.  Hence the President’s visit to Sweden’s KTH, the Royal Institute of Technology.

And it is a particular honor to welcome you to Sweden at this time.  

There is a great synchronicity between our two countries.  Sweden and America have always been friends, but today we are more than that.  We share not only common values, but also an awareness of shared responsibilities for humanity’s future.    

We share a consciousness of how science and innovation can address the challenges of our time.

Both of our countries see the value of global engagement, and welcoming others to our lands.  Sweden is one of the most generous countries in the world in terms of development aid, and has opened its doors to literally hundreds of thousands of political asylees.

America is a country in which historically our national identity derives in part from the fact that our founding fathers were forced to move to America and become Americans.  

That immigrant experience informs our political culture and our consciousness, as President Obama puts it, makes America an “immigrant rich” society.

It is significant that about one third of all U.S. Nobel laureates have been immigrants to America, and that America is proud to be a country of immigrants.

Four of nine of this year’s laureates are born elsewhere. That is something to celebrate.

The Nobel Foundation, and by extension the Nobel Prizes, remind us that both Sweden and America share a vision of global cooperation in which talent has no borders.

Please join me as I raise my glass and offer a toast in honor of all our Nobel Prize laureates.     

Skål!


Mrs. Brzezinski together with the American Women's Club

Happy Thanksgiving!

“As Americans, we hail from every part of the world. While we observe traditions from every culture, Thanksgiving Day is a unique national tradition we all share. Its spirit binds us together as one people, each of us thankful for our common blessings.”—President Barack Obama, 2009

This week, I had the honor of giving the keynote remarks at an early Thanksgiving Day celebration with the wonderful American Women’s Club here in Stockholm. As I reflected on what I would say, I realized these words by President Obama captured perfectly the essence of what is unique about Thanksgiving and what this holiday means to me.

The spirit of Thanksgiving has been personified in my time abroad. Thanksgiving is an expression of unity and inclusion. It’s an open and extended hand to a neighbor, a seat at the table, an embracing of diversity and a focus on what brings us together as humanity not what differences we may have.

We all hail from an amazing country—The United States of America— that brings its citizens together around shared values and created traditions that focus on our diversity and human dignity. It’s a country where my parents—immigrants from Eastern Europe — could start with nothing and create a life with the best education and a beautiful home for their daughter, a first generation American. It’s a country where it’s possible and even embraced, to combine a wide variety of traditions, religions and mores and still be American. How beautiful that is! And how strong and dynamic it makes America!

I’ll never forget when President Barack Obama appeared for the first time out of Air Force One this September on a historic visit to Sweden. My eyes filled unexpectedly with tears as I realized that our President truly represented the American dream for me. He represented the hopes my immigrant parents had for me, the hopes of many single mothers and hard-working grandparents; that in our country any dream is possible. I’m so grateful for being born in a country of hope.

I’m also profoundly grateful for the sacrifices my parents made, for their hard work which has allowed me to be where I am today, for the love that my amazing husband and daughter give me, and the for  Embassy community here in Sweden where we share such great mutual support, generosity and respect.

This Thanksgiving I’ll give thanks for this community and especially for the United States Marines who protect this Embassy. Mark and I have shared a Thanksgiving table with the U.S. Marines here in the past, and it was a humbling and fantastic experience that I know both of us will cherish. Their strength and personal sacrifice gives us all strength.

A special thanks to the American Women’s Club for allowing me to express these sentiments to you. Women are often the ones who carry long-held traditions within their families and take them across oceans and borders to new lands and homes away from home. The American women in Stockholm work so hard to protect and convey our many great American traditions. And this week we shared the most beautiful Thanksgiving meal together, as sisters, and I was so happy to be a part of it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Warmest wishes on this day to all of our friends in this Embassy community, in Sweden and back home!

Ooo-Rah! US Embassy Sweden’s Marine Ball

Last weekend, US Embassy Sweden celebrated our US Marine detachment, and the service of the Corps worldwide. The Sheraton in Stockholm just sparkled, and a wonderful night of dancing, really good food and terrific friendship was had by all. I just loved the vibe of the night, which was so positive and joyful. The spirit of this year’s Marine Ball was something to behold and is deserving of a huge Ooo-Rah!  Below is the beginning of the speech I gave, which conveys my deep conviction that the US Marines and our Marine detachment in Stockholm are deserving of our utmost gratitude:

“Distinguished Guests, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Earlier this year, almost one month before he made his historic visit to Sweden, President Barack Obama was in Camp Pendleton, California, visiting the US Marines.  President Obama had this to say when thanking the troops and their families for their extraordinary service to our nation:

“[There’s an] ethic of your lives:  Always faithful.  Always faithful to each other — the few and the proud.  Always faithful to your Corps ….  Always faithful to your country, for whom you wear the eagle, globe and anchor.  After all you’ve given to our nation, you have to know your nation will always be faithful to you. “

I want to begin with President’s Obama’s words, because indeed the US Marines have a special comradeship, a unique bond.  And as beneficiaries of your duty and sacrifice, we Americans have a responsibility to honor that.

So tonight we stand together – Swedes, Americans, friends, a community – to celebrate you, the Marines.

I’ve really been looking forward to our Marine Ball because to me public service is the highest form of living.

It’s something I respect so much, and in me there’s always been a little pang of wishing I had served in the military.

And when it comes to our Marines, the finest expeditionary force in the world, look at any American engagement around the world that requires a heavy lift.  Our Marines are likely there.

They are the first in, and last out.  Just this week the US Marines deployed to aid the Philippines recovery.  In places like Haiti, Indonesia, Japan and elsewhere, American men and women in uniform help those who have lost loved ones and property to rebuild their lives.

At the US Embassy in Stockholm, we are proud to serve with six Marines.

I knew before landing in Stockholm two years ago, that I would have an instant connection with these young yet profoundly mature men and women, who’ve taken on enormous responsibility at a young age.

This year I have worked out with them, gone running with them and done cross training, I’ve gone shooting with them on the range.  We’ve celebrated Thanksgiving away from home, farewells and arrivals, making memories together as an Embassy family.

Any chance I have to walk in their shoes, shoulder to shoulder with them, I grab, because it makes me a better man.

Why is that?

Because there are values the Marines live by which are relevant to us all.  And that I personally try to emulate every day.  These are values I grew up with in my own family, where military service is always held up as the pinnacle of public service.  These are values which inform how I operate here in Sweden.

As Chief of Mission, I take the responsibility President Obama gave me extremely seriously.  And I often find myself when different questions or conundrums surface, reflecting on the values of the US Marines.

There’s a book entitled   Leading from the Front, written by two former female Marines (Courtney Lynch and Angie Morgan), that crystallizes some of the values and practices that the authors draw from their years in the Corps but which are pertinent in life.  “Leading from the front” literally means having high standards, and that those standards start with you.  But it’s about integrity, having a higher purpose than oneself:

It’s about:
·                     The iron-clad concept of “the Team”:  meaning one for all, all for one. Taking care of your team so they take care of you.
·                     Respond without over-reacting.  Staying cool while dealing with crisis.
·                     Having the courage to achieve your goals.
·                     Being defined by your actions, not your words.

Now let me tell you about our Marines at the US Embassy and how each of them lives these values every day…”