Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sundown at the Palace

December 31 was the last day the U.S. occupied the Republican Palace, where the Embassy has operated for the last several years. There was a nice ceremony to lower the American flag for the last time. On January 1, the Iraqis will have a flag-raising ceremony at the Palace. (Watch for a battle between the Prime Minister and the President to see who gets the Palace.)

The Marines lowered the flag and presented it to Ambassador Crocker. There had been some lively debate about whether to use the grimey flag that had been flying for a while ("it has character") or to use a new one ("it photographs better"). Grimey won.

The Ambassador gave a nice speech about the transition and the evolving relationship with Iraq. Then he presented the flag to a surprised General Perkins, who, years earlier as Colonel Perkins, played an important role in the first weeks of the war.

We'll officially dedicate the new U.S. Embassy soon.

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