As a retired member of the United States Foreign Service, I was proud to represent the interests and values of America in 15 countries over my 38 years of service.
This week, my active duty colleagues in the Foreign Service will celebrate Foreign Service Day, designated by the United States Senate in 1996 as the first Friday in May each year.
On this occasion, I take the opportunity to recognize the critical work done by America’s diplomats and development professionals at American embassies and consulates in almost every country in the world.
America’s network of embassies is operated and staffed by members of the U.S. Foreign Service, who have learned the local language and customs and know how to navigate the terrain.
They act on America’s behalf to enhance our national security and advance our economic prosperity at home.
American businesses depend greatly on American diplomats to work with countries to establish rules and remove obstacles to enable them to compete and operate overseas on a level playing field. They create new opportunities and open new markets.
When American businesses expand their reach across the globe, they create new opportunities and open new markets.[ Exports of $55 billion support approximately 232,253 Floridian jobs.]
This economic diplomacy by members of the Foreign Service is increasingly critical as our country faces growing challenges to our global leadership, particularly from rising powers such as China.
I, for one, support the full use of our diplomatic efforts to help maintain American global leadership in all areas.
Because if we don’t lead, who will?