Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Secretary of Defense Gates Visits St. Petersburg

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates fires the noon cannon at
Peter and Paul Fortress
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' visit to St. Petersburg last week caused a lot of commotion around here.  Here he is, firing the noon cannon at the Peter and Paul Fortress.  The cannon is fired every day at noon, usually by a special "Director of the Cannon."  Only VIP guests get the privilege of stepping in for a shot.  I wish I could be a little more descriptive of the whole event, but for now all I can offer is this nice photo and a general overview.  One of the highlights was the visit to the Peter and Paul Cathedral (the spire you see behind Dr. Gates).  This is where the Russian tsars are buried; from Peter the Great to Nicholas II -- and their families.  We also had an Orthodox choir (quartet) serenade us in a room with special acoustics. The way the sound resonated from everywhere and filled the room was incredible.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's Coin

A really neat souvenir was given to those of us who worked on the visit.  Each Secretary of Defense (as well as many other high-level figures) has their own coins minted, which they may give away at their discretion.  Upon leaving St. Petersburg, Secretary Gates' advance team said that the Secretary was very impressed with the Consulate's work and how smoothly his visit had gone here, and everyone who worked on the visit was given a coin. Here's an example of Rumsfeld's coin; Gates' is very similar.
Overall it was a really neat experience!


  1. Thank you for sharing this! Your picture came out great!!! How fun to be in the right place at the right time. xo

  2. Actually, Sue, this is one of the press photos. :) I was sick that day, had lost my voice, and forgotten my camera. I only had energy to focus on my job!
    I was thankful afterwards when all the press came out and I could see that they had adequately captured this historic event!!


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