The Embassy of Finland organized a Centennial Gala on Saturday, September 16. Over 100 guests celebrated the centennial and enjoyed the festive atmosphere. President Sauli Niinistö and Mrs. Jenni Haukio were the guests of honor.
The architecturally acclaimed Finnish embassy building was decorated to its finest as the 100th anniversary of Finland's independence was celebrated in Washington, D.C. The convivial gala was organized well ahead of Finland's actual Independence Day, December 6.
The guests of honor were President Sauli Niinistö and Mrs. Jenni Haukio. In addition, Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini honored the celebration with his presence.
The guest list included representatives of the current and previous administration, Nordic and Baltic Ambassadors, as well as directors of local think thanks and cultural organizations. Pictured below are President of the Brookings Institution Strobe Talbott and his spouse Barbara Ascher, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and Deputy Chief of Mission Antti Vänskä, and Senator Debra Fischer with President Niinistö.
The Embassy also had the pleasure of hosting eight former U.S. Ambassadors to Finland at the gala. Pictured below are Ambassadors Charles C. Adams, Jr., Barbara Barrett, Bruce Oreck, Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, Rozanne Ridgway, Eric S. Edelman and Derek Shearer, respectively. Ambassador James Goodby was also at the gala, though missing from the group photo.
In his speech, President Niinistö said that the bond between Finland and the United States is now closer than ever. He thanked the gala attendees, both Finns and Americans, for their work in strengthening the Finnish-American relations.
"We look forward to deepening our partnership with the United States ever further in the years ahead," President Niinistö concluded.
You can read the full transcript of his speech here.
The gala guests were treated to a three-course dinner. The menu, created by the Embassy's chef Jyrki Jääskeläinen, included Finnish delicacies such as gravlax, malt bread, venison, chanterelle mushrooms and blueberry ice cream. The red wine was produced by Marketta Winery, the only Finnish-owned winery in the United States.
In addition to wonderful and warm-hearted speeches, the guests got to enjoy music by world-famous Finnish soprano Camilla Nylund. She performed songs by Finnish masters Jean Sibelius and Toivo Kuula, accompanied by pianist Matti Hirvonen.
See more photos from the gala here!