11.5.08 Election Day Celebration went well. Actually it went supercalfragistigaspealidocious. Over 300 bodies fit into the venue that would supposedly mas at 300. So it was packed!
The NYT said:
U.S. Envoy Hosts First Event at New Embassy in Baghdad (NY Times, Nov. 6)
BAGHDAD - The vast, new American Embassy in Baghdad, which cost well over half a billion dollars, has not yet officially opened. But the ambassador, Ryan C. Crocker, welcomed about 250 Iraqi officials, diplomats and dignitaries for a preliminary glimpse on Wednesday morning in what was described as a party to celebrate the 2008 American presidential election.
"I'm delighted you could join us for the first event we could have in our new embassy," Mr. Crocker said in a brief address. But he also sounded a note of caution to Iraqi officials who might have been hoping for rapid changes in American leadership at a time when Iraq's government is entangled in negotiating the details of the security pact that sets the conditions for a continued United States military presence in Iraq.
"Our president today is George Bush, and he will be our president for the next two and a half months," Mr. Crocker told guests gathered at the four-story atrium of the main embassy building, which is in the heavily guarded part of the capital known as the Green Zone.
If the security pact, known as the status of forces agreement, is not signed before Dec. 31, when the United Nations mandate allowing United States forces to remain in Iraq expires, American troops will have to halt operations in Iraq.
Yet the embassy, built like a fortress, suggested a degree of permanence to the American presence here that at least some of the Iraqi guests seemed to find comforting.
"The size of this embassy and the number of employees who will occupy it are a sign of the American government's commitment to democracy in Iraq," said Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's foreign minister. He did not remember the details of the original lease agreement for the land, he said, "but it was a very long lease."
A few feet behind Mr. Zebari, a waiter served green-tinted fruit punch out of a silver fountain. A cake the size of a cafeteria table, with a State Department seal drawn in shiny black icing, anchored one end of the room. Scenes of President-elect Barack Obama's victory speech were projected on a wall and, on a buffet, an eagle had been carved meticulously into the side of an upended watermelon.
Since 2003, embassy officials have worked in offices housed in what had been the Republican Palace of Saddam Hussein, which is in another part of the Green Zone.
Some of the staff members have already moved into their offices in the new embassy compound, and the rest are expected to move by the end of December.
The Republican Palace, a symbol of Mr. Hussein's power for many Iraqis, will then be used as an Iraqi government building, said a Shiite member of Parliament, Hasan al-Shammari of the Fadhila Party.
The election reception was held on a relatively quiet day in Iraq.
However, a car bombing on Baghdad's airport road killed four people and wounded nine.
MY DECORATIONS MADE THE NEWS!!! Who would've ever thought such time and energy and planning could go into a blurb like this. Not me, but it did feel nice to get distant mention.
Yesterday in our staff meeting, the Ambassador praised the success of the event TWICE! Two times he said, Beth, Great Job. Thanks for the event. Yayayayayayaayy!!!!! It made it worth every ounce of energy. My friends were chiding me, the Ambassador praised you by name twice, write that down! So, of couse, I am!
If you care to read Crocker's remarks, you can find them here http://iraq.usembassy.gov/remarks11062008.html