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St Paul's welcomes Americans for Thanksgiving celebration

The annual service of American Thanksgiving has taken place at St Paul's, with the new Ambassador speaking of the continuing unity between our nations.

At the service on Thursday, 28 November, Ambassador Matthew Barzun addressed a congregation of 2,000 people, mostly Americans, who had packed the Cathedral.


Quoting President Roosevelt, who 70 years ago today hosted Sir Winston Churchill for Thanksgiving dinner, Mr Barzun said: "The president carved the turkey himself and gave the following toast: 'Larger families are usually more closely united than small ones and so this year, with the people of the United Kingdom in our family, we are a large family and more united than before. I propose a toast to unity and may it long continue.' That unity does continue.I see it every day. You see it every day. And we all see it writ large today - here - with such an iconic British Cathedral hosting such a distinctly American holiday."


Mr Barzun, who only took office in August, was joined at the ceremony by his wife and three children. Also with him was his mother, celebrating her 70th birthday.

The service included readings, prayers and music, sung by the Combined Choirs of the American Congregations in London.

Congregational hymns included America, the Beautiful.

The sermon was given by the Reverend Barry Gaeddert, who spoke movingly about the recent loss of his wife, but how his faith meant he still had great thanks to give.

A Colour Guard was be provided by the US Marine Corps.

St Paul's Cathedral has a long-standing connection with the American people. At the east end of the Cathedral behind the High Altar is the American Memorial Chapel.

This part of the building was destroyed during the Blitz of World War II and as part of the post-war restoration it was decided that the people of Britain should commemorate the 28,000 Americans who were killed on their way to, or stationed in, the UK during the Second World War. Their names are recorded in the 500-page roll of honour encased behind the high altar. This was presented by General Eisenhower in 1951 and a page of the book is turned every day.

The American Chapel was designed by Stephen Dykes Bower and constructed by Godfrey Allen, Surveyor to the Fabric 1931-1956. The images that adorn its wood, metalwork and stained glass include depictions of the flora and fauna of North America and references to historical events.The three chapel windows date from 1960. They feature themes of service and sacrifice, while the insignia around the edges represent the American states and the US armed forces. The limewood panelling incorporates a rocket - a tribute to America's achievements in space.