Hello everyone. I’m John Kerry. It’s my great privilege to serve as Secretary of State, and my distinct honor to welcome you to this special conference hosted by the Smithsonian, the National Park Service, and the State Department. We are so glad you are exploring “Diplomacy in Action.”
I lead a group of hard-working Americans stationed all over the globe who put diplomacy into action every day. The men and women of the State Department help us to see eye-to-eye with our partners, and to understand the hopes and aspirations of people all over the world. Through promoting education, development, and cultural exchange, these dedicated men and women help us to build a prosperous future for our nation, for the world, and for the next generation.
While I travel around the globe frequently to lead these efforts and conduct diplomacy, much of it actually happens right here in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the U.S. Department of State.
These 42 rooms are used by the President, Vice President, me and other key officials to engage with leaders from around the world. In these rooms – decorated in ways that commemorate our states and different phases of our country - we negotiate peace, promote commercial and cultural ties between nations, and work to create prosperity for all nations.
These rooms tell a story about our nation’s rich history of diplomacy. Through their extraordinary collection of more than 5,000 items, they bring that history to life and remind us of our own obligations. Items in our diplomatic rooms include the porcelain used by George Washington to celebrate the first American ship to arrive in China, and the Treaty of Paris Desk, where Benjamin Franklin himself was among those who signed the document that ended our Revolutionary War and secured America’s independence.
We are pleased to be partnering with the Smithsonian Institution and the National Park Service to create a digital badge on diplomacy that you can earn by listening to this conference and completing a series of quests. We are proud to be part of this Inter-Agency Initiative because we believe that all people should be able to learn about our country’s great history and American Diplomacy through these federal collections.
You will hear from the Curator of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, and a senior historian at the Department of State. We will show you first-hand how our nation’s diplomacy and history is symbolized by the objects in these rooms. Then our colleagues at the National Park Service and the Smithsonian will share locations and objects in their care.
This conference brings our world to your world. It shares with you ways we build global communities and ways you can use diplomacy in your own communities. So this conference is only the beginning of your journey. As you earn your badge today, I hope you build a better understanding of how “Diplomacy in Action” is a part of your future and journey in the world.