After thirty years the US has raised its flag over its embassy in Tripoli, Libya on May 13, 2009.
The US ambassador Gene A. Cretz likened the raising of the American flag, near a humble two-storey building at Ben Ashur area, an upscale section of Tripoli, to the raising of the American flag over Iwo Jima in Japan after a battle that lasted from 19 February to 26 March 1945.
According to a press release made available by the American embassy in Tripoli, the Ambassador said raising the Flag was a touchstone for the American spirit worldwide.
He said in a speech at the small ceremony the embassy organized for the occasion, “when they think of images of the Flag, Americans remember Neil Armstrong on the moon, Joe Rosenthal’s photograph of the Flag over Iwo Jima, and Thomas Franklin’s image ‘Ground Zero Spirit,’ where the Flag was raised after the tragedy of September 11. Each generation has a different reference, but the images and feelings are the same —stars and stripes, honor and service.”
Ambassador Cretz said in a speech at the small ceremony the embassy organized for the occasion: “Raising the Flag is a symbol to the American people that we are representing them in Libya, and a symbol to the Libyan people that they are always welcome to learn about our country and its values.”
“As the first American Ambassador to Libya in 36 years, I have the honor of representing the United States of America in Libya at a historic time in our relationship. We continue our daily work of normalizing relations with the Libyan government, and creating new ties with the Libyan people,” he said at the start of his speech.
The battle of Iwo Jima, however, was the first American attack on the Japanese islands during World War II, where the Japanese soldiers defended their positions on their homeland tenaciously. Of the 22,000 Japanese soldiers present at the beginning of the battle, over 20,000 were killed and only 1,083 taken prisoner by the invading American forces.
Cretz added: “The United States and Libya will only truly enjoy a strong relationship when Americans and Libyans have developed productive private relationships. I am enthusiastic to see Americans and Libyans getting to know each other better and establishing bonds of friendship and trust. Every day at the U.S. Embassy, we continue our business of “firsts”- the first exchange of Ambassadors, the first meeting between the Libyan National Security Advisor and our recently-appointed Secretary of State, the first opening of visa services in Libya in over 25 years, and the first interviews by US officials on Libyan television.”
Directing his words to American diplomats serving in Tripoli, Ambassador Cretz said: “Seeing the American Flag here in Tripoli brings pride to our hearts. As American diplomats, we participate in many symbolic ceremonies throughout our careers; I suspect this is one that will for many of us be among the most memorable. The presence of the flag will now serve as a daily reminder of who we are and what we represent in Libya.”