Last night the US Embassy celebrated Independence Day early, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of US marines arriving in New Zealand (which is today). As well as the normal contingent of Marines at the Embassy, we have 54 Marines visiting here for three weeks. It was a pleasure meeting and talking to many of them last night.
The reception was at the Town Hall, which was decorated in red, white and blue. 1940s movies were playing on the screens, and a jeep somehow got into the reception also.
The highlight was the coming onto stage of two WWII veterans – one US, and one NZ. The US veteran had not been back to New Zealand since 1944. It was very moving.
Ambassador Huebner spoke very well, and quoted Oprah of all people. But it was a good quote about how some friends want to travel in your limo with you, but the true friend is the one who will catch the bus with you.
As our men were fighting in Europe against the Nazis and Fascists, we had between 15,000 and 45,000 US servicemen stationed in New Zealand, whose job was to risk their lives defending our country should Japan invade. Thankfully the invasion never came, but we did see 1,500 Kiwi women marry a US serviceman.