Secretary of State John Kerry is in Cuba Friday to attend a historic ceremony in which three retired Marines—the same men who took down the American flag in 1961 when the U.S. embassy closed—unfurl the U.S. flag, as the two countries mark yet another chapter in restoring diplomatic relations.
“For more than half a century, U.S.-Cuban relations have been suspended in the amber of Cold War politics,” Kerry said during the ceremony.
He is the first secretary of state to visit Cuba since 1945. The Washington Post outlined the day’s events:
Speeches are to follow the raising of the banner outside the seven-story embassy building, built in the early 1950s on the Malecón, Havana’s sweeping waterfront boulevard. The U.S. Army’s Brass Quintet will play both country’s anthems.
Richard Blanco, who read at President Obama’s inauguration, will read “Matters of the Sea,” a poem he wrote for the occasion. Blanco’s family left Cuba shortly before he was born in 1968.
Last month, the U.S. and Cuba reopened embassies in their respective capitals for the first time since the two countries severed ties more than half a century ago. Kerry, in a news conference at the time with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, called the day “historic.” And that it was. The Cuban flag was added in the State Department to those of other countries that have diplomatic relations with the U.S.