Thursday, August 13, 2009

David Killion Sworn In as U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO

David Killion was sworn in yesterday as the new American Ambassador and Permanent Representative to UNESCO. The oath to support the Constitution of the United States was administered by the Under Secretary of State. Ambassador Killion acknowledged the support of his wife, who coincidentally he met first in Paris, and of his mother, a teacher, and his father, a chemist. His acceptance speech was a reprise of the message he provided to the Congress at his confirmation hearing.

The ceremony was held in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department. It seems fitting that the Ambassador to UNESCO was sworn in in a room named after Franklin, who was among other things America's first great scientist, a writer whose autobiography and sayings are still read today, the founding President of the Academy which eventually became the University of Pennsylvania, the founder of the first public lending library in America, one of America's most accomplished and successful diplomats who loved Paris (where UNESCO is headquartered), a newspaper publisher and generally a man who exemplified in his lifetime the spirit of UNESCO.

Incidentally, the diplomatic rooms of the State Department are beautiful, furnished with American antiques from the 18th century of great beauty and value.

The ceremony was well attended, with perhaps 100 people in the audience. As I waited in line to get through the security screening needed to enter the State Department I had the pleasure of meeting Ivonne Baki, a candidate for Director General of UNESCO, who was directly in front of me. I also had the pleasure of chatting with the couple standing directly behind me, Bob Kahn (one of the inventors of the Internet) and his wife, Patrice Lyons (one of the members of the Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO). I suspect that many of the others who attended the ceremony were comparably distinguished.

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