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Posted by algarveresident on July 09, 2010

By Chris Graeme chris.graeme@theresidentgroup.comDiplomats, parliamentary deputies, friends and guests of the new United States Ambassador to Portugal were visibly touched by this year’s speech at the annual 4th of July Celebration Party.Allan J. Katz, who became the new US Ambassador to Lisbon 11 weeks ago, revealed that his family had been persecuted by the Nazis in Germany in the run up to the Second World War.“Unlike most Europeans, most Americans have no direct genealogical connection to the Founding Fathers. I am no exception. I am a first generation American,” he told guests.“My father escaped Nazi Germany in 1939 and at 19 years old began a new life in the United States. He went on to be a salesman. His son went on to be a diplomat and ambassador.“One of my children, the grandson of a man who was never able to get his high school degree because the Nazis closed down Jewish schools in Germany, has gone on to get his doctorate and is a college professor,” he said. Allan J. Katz was talking on the occasion of the 234th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776. Portugal, along with Morocco, was one of the first countries in the world to recognise the new country in the 1790s.“wonderful country”Presenting the coloursUS Ambassador to Portugal Allan J. Katz (left) with British Ambassador Alex Ellis. The Ambassador thanked all of the sponsors, whose generosity helped make the event possible, as well as thanking the Flagship Band from the US Naval Forces Europe which provided an evening of jazz, blues, rock and roll and soul music.This year’s 4th of July party also gave guests, staff and friends of the embassya chance to bid farewell to Deputy Chief of Mission, David Ballard who, after three years living in Portugal, left for his next assignment. He will be replaced by Wayne Salisbury.“I arrived in Portugal 11 weeks ago and it is a particular honour to host my first American Independence Day in this wonderful country,” said the ambassador.Allan J. Katz also referred to the fact that Portugal, too, was celebrating several anniversaries in 2010, including the Centenary of the Foundation of the Portuguese Republic in 1910.“Of course, the United States and Portugal’s friendship extends well over a century. Our formal political ties began shortly after the independence of my country and have since flourished for over two centuries and in areas that go well beyond the diplomatic sphere,” he said, adding that the countries were bound by institutions, strategic goals, common values and family.”Ambassador Katz stressed that his family’s story was “not unique” but was part of the “legacy of America”.“Just as you, the Portuguese, build your foundation on a long and rich history of brave individuals – from the explorers of the Age of Discoveries that redefined the boundaries of the world to the founders of the Portuguese Republic, to Aristides de Sousa Mendes who sacrificed his career and reputation to save thousands of lives during WWII, to the captains and political leaders of the Carnation Revolution (1974). Together, we, who hold these truths to be evident, stand on the shoulders of those that came before us,” he said.