Gala celebration of two centuries of Thai-U.S. friendship

Friendships that endure are a cause for celebration. So dignitaries, artists, and diplomats from the Kingdom of Thailand and the United States of America joined together to celebrate two centuries of Thai-U.S. friendship and 185 years of diplomatic ties at the Library of Congress on the evening of September 27.

Among dignitaries from Thailand and the United States were Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Virasakdi Futrakul, Assistant Secretary of State for Education and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce, Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Chair of the U.S. House’s subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Ted Yoho, as well as executives from leading institutions and business sectors. The event was hosted by the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington in collaboration with the Library of Congress and the US-ASEAN Business Council.

“Thailand and the United States have been working closely to safeguard freedom, security, and stability in Southeast Asia and beyond and to promote economic development and well-being of our peoples. Thai investment in the US’s real sector exceeds 5.7 $billion and expands across 23 states and employs over 68,000 workers. “ said Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Virasakdi Futrakul, noting that Thailand is the oldest treaty partner of the United States in Asia.

Among the US dignitaries present was Bangkok-born United States Senator Tammy Duckworth, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and veteran of the Iraq War. “The long-standing alliance and cooperation between our two countries should be cherished and celebrated, but we also have to continue our work towards greater future cooperation” Duckworth said.

The highlight of the evening was a concert of jazz music composed by Thailand’s late monarch His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and rendered by renowned American jazz pianist John di Martino and his Quartet along with musical virtuosos from Thailand.

“This special evening is intended in part as a reminiscence of another landmark event in our bilateral relations that is the historic royal visit of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej to the Library of Congress in 1960.” he added during his remarks.

Di Martino and friends performed in the Library’s Jefferson Building, which houses a collection of classical Thai musical instruments that King Bhumibol presented as a royal gift during his state visit to the U.S. in 1960.

Born in a Massachusetts hospital in 1927 while his parents attended Harvard medical school and Simmons College of Nursing, King Bhumibol remains the only monarch ever born in the United States. King Bhumibol, who passed away in 2016 after 70 years on the throne, deeply valued his nation’s friendship with the United States.

That friendship began on June 24, 1818, when Captain Stephen Williams of Massachusetts sailed his merchant ship into the port of Bangkok with the aim of establishing trade. Williams was warmly welcomed and carried back with him a letter from the Thai royal court to President James Monroe encouraging further trade and contacts.

Fifteen years later, in 1833, the two nations signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, the official start of diplomatic relations.

Since then, Thailand and the United States have worked together to realize common values and shared goals in trade and investment, security and peacekeeping, health and education, and cultural enrichment.

Two centuries of friendship is a firm foundation on which to build a brighter future for the benefit of the peoples of the United States and the Kingdom of Thailand.