His Majesty King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej in the United States – Forg­ing the Bonds of Friend­ship

Thai-American Business (T-AB) Magazine - - Contents - Writ­ten by: Deanna Pa­jkovski and Adrian Wynn

The United States and Thai­land share an en­dur­ing friend­ship that spans more than 180 years. The of­fi­cial re­la­tion­ship be­tween Thai­land and the United States dates back to 1833 with the sign­ing of the Treaty of Amity and Com­merce that began a part­ner­ship that has de­vel­oped and strength­ened over time.

An im­por­tant mile­stone that fur­ther re­in­forced the bonds be­tween the two al­lies and em­bod­ied the warm friend­ship be­tween the two na­tions in its purest form was the birth of His Majesty King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej in Cam­bridge, Mas­sachusetts on De­cem­ber 5, 1927 while his fa­ther, Prince Mahi­dol, was a stu­dent at Har­vard Med­i­cal School. For the next 30 years of his life, His Majesty nur­tured a nos­tal­gic cu­rios­ity and long­ing to re­turn to his birth­place. In 1960, at the start of a 15- coun­try tour to es­tab­lish re­la­tions and build good­will glob­ally, His Majesty and Queen Sirikit’s first stop was the United States of Amer­ica. Ad­dress­ing the U. S. Congress dur­ing his visit, His Majesty said:

“I have the nat­u­ral hu­man de­sire to see my birth­place. I ex­pect some of you here were also born in Bos­ton or, like my fa­ther, were ed­u­cated at Har­vard. I has­ten to con­grat­u­late such for­tu­nate peo­ple. I am sure that they are with me in spirit. We share a sen­ti­ment of deep pride in the aca­demic and cul­tural achieve­ments of that won­der­ful city.”

The King’s first visit to the U. S. so­lid­i­fied U. S.- Thai re­la­tions and gave a hu­man face to the long­stand­ing friend­ship be­tween the two na­tions. The Royal cou­ple charmed Amer­i­cans from Honolulu to Wash­ing­ton, DC. Peo­ple were de­lighted by His Majesty’s wide- rang­ing in­ter­ests and tal­ents. In ad­di­tion to states­man­ship ac­tiv­i­ties such as speak­ing at a joint ses­sion of the U. S. Congress and re­ceiv­ing the Le­gion of Honor, the high­est U. S. award given to non- Amer­i­cans, from Pres­i­dent Dwight Eisen­hower, His Majesty played jazz with Benny Good­man, vis­ited Dis­ney Stu­dios and met with Walt Dis­ney, in­dulged in an im­promptu jam ses­sion with Elvis Pres­ley, and greeted New York­ers at a ticker tape pa­rade. The King, in his wis­dom, un­der­stood that cul­tural and so­cial ties were as im­por­tant as diplo­matic re­la­tions in fos­ter­ing a bond be­tween two na­tions. “Friend­ship of one gov­ern­ment for an­other is an im­por­tant thing. But it is friend­ship of one peo­ple for an­other [ that] as­suredly guar­an­tees peace and progress,” the King said in his Congress ad­dress. He added:

“It can be said that from the be­gin­ning of our re­la­tion­ship right up to the present time no con­flict of any kind has arisen to dis­turb our cor­dial friend­ship and un­der­stand­ing. On the con­trary there has been mu­tual good­will and close co- op­er­a­tion be­tween our two coun­tries. In view of the present world ten­sion and the feel­ing of un­cer­tainty ap­par­ent ev­ery­where, it is my sin­cere feel­ing that the time is ripe for an even closer co- op­er­a­tion. It will demon­strate to the world that we are on in pur­pose and con­vic­tion and it can only lead to one thing – mu­tual ben­e­fits.”

Th­ese pre­scient words led to His Majesty’s sec­ond visit to the U. S, in 1967 when he hoped to win U. S. sup­port for the Thai mil­i­tary as it strug­gled with a com­mu­nist in­sur­gency. Dur­ing the Cold War, His Majesty be­came a trusted ally to the United States. He led his coun­try into a treaty al­liance with the United States and com­mit­ted his peo­ple to battle side- by- side with the

United States in Korea and Viet­nam. Thai­land would go on to send troops to fight in Viet­nam, and it pro­vided bases for the U. S. Air Force.

Af­ter the 9/ 11 at­tacks, Thai­land served as a valu­able part­ner in the strug­gle against ter­ror­ism. It par­tic­i­pated in the U. S.- led war ef­fort in Iraq and con­trib­uted to re­con­struc­tion ef­forts in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Thai­land made its mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties avail­able for U. S. tran­sit­ing to both are­nas. Today the United States and Thai­land co­op­er­ate on a wide range of pro­grams across a vast range of is­sues, in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion and cul­ture, pub­lic health, busi­ness and trade, democ­racy, as well as se­cu­rity and mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion.

Dur­ing his 70- year reign, His Majesty King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej wit­nessed the pres­i­dency of, and be­came com­pan­ions with, sev­eral U. S. pres­i­dents. Not only was he a well- re­ceived po­lit­i­cal ally to the U. S., he was a friend that could be called upon in the time of need and it was known that the United States would re­turn the fa­vor when needed.

His Majesty King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej was dearly loved by both Thais and Amer­i­cans and was seen as a pi­o­neer of his coun­try’s de­vel­op­ment and a sym­bol of unity. Thai­land has lost one of the most prom­i­nent fig­ures of its his­tory and its guid­ing light and AMCHAM Thai­land stands with the peo­ple of Thai­land at this time of mourn­ing. Not only was His Majesty a uni­fy­ing in­flu­ence for the coun­try, he was seen as a sta­bi­liz­ing fig­ure that cit­i­zens looked to in times of un­rest and tur­moil. For over 70 years, His Majesty led Thai­land with in­tegrity and com­pas­sion, with the needs and

as­pi­ra­tions of the Thai peo­ple at the heart of ev­ery project he pur­sued. He was a trusted and honor­able ally of the United States and be­cause of him we will for­ever rep­re­sent two na­tions and one friend­ship.

U. S. Am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, Samantha Power, gave a heart­felt trib­ute to His Majesty at the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly Memo­rial Ser­vice in his honor. She elo­quently pin­pointed why His Majesty was as loved and re­spected abroad as he was at home:

“His Majesty told mem­bers of the U. S. Congress that there was one tra­di­tion val­ued above all oth­ers for the Thai peo­ple – the com­mit­ment to fam­ily. He said, “The mem­bers of a fam­ily are ex­pected to help one an­other when­ever there is a need for as­sis­tance. The giv­ing of aid is a merit in it­self. The giver does not ex­pect to hear oth­ers sing his praises ev­ery day; nor does he ex­pect any re­turn. The re­ceiver is nev­er­the­less grate­ful. He too, in his turn, will carry out his obli­ga­tions.”

Now the King was speak­ing about the bonds and gen­eros­ity among mem­bers of Thai fam­i­lies. But in ret­ro­spect, his words can just as eas­ily be ap­plied to the way that he lived his life. A life of al­ways look­ing for ways to be use­ful to those in need. A life of giv­ing, and of serv­ing, ev­ery sin­gle day. Not to earn praise, not to get some­thing in re­turn, but rather be­cause that is what one does for fam­ily. And His Majesty con­sid­ered all the peo­ple of Thai­land to be his fam­ily. How for­tu­nate the Thai peo­ple were to have had His Majesty as a mem­ber of their fam­ily. And how for­tu­nate we are to be able to learn from the way that this re­mark­able king chose to live his life.”

Deanna Pa­jkovski is Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Di­rec­tor and Adrian Wynn is in­tern at AMCHAM Thai­land. They can be con­tacted at deanna@ am­chamthai­land. com and in­tern1@ am­chamthai­land. com.

Walt Dis­ney, An­i­mated film maker and founder of Dis­ney­land, presents a ban­ner of his first car­toon star, “Mickey Mouse,” to H. R. H. Crown Prince Va­ji­ra­longkorn on June 22, 1960. Photo: United States Information Ser­vice. The Ea­gle and the Ele­phant: Thai Amer­i­can Re­la­tions Since 1833, Bangkok, 1997, p. 123.

The King of Thai­land joins in a ‘ jam ses­sion’ with Amer­i­can jazz greats dur­ing his visit to the U. S. in 1960. Left to right: King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej, sax­o­phone; Ur­bie Green, trom­bone; Benny Good­man, clar­inet, Jonah Jones, trum­pet and Gene Krupa, drums. Photo: IIP Photo Archive on Flickr

His Majesty King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej ad­dresses a joint ses­sion of the U. S. Congress on June 29, 1960. Photo: United States Information Ser­vice. The Ea­gle and the Ele­phant: Thai Amer­i­can Re­la­tions Since 1833, Bangkok, 1997, p. 118.

Their Majesties meet singer and movie star Elvis Pres­ley on the set of “G. I. Blues” in Hol­ly­wood dur­ing their visit in June 1960. Photo: United States Information Ser­vice. The Ea­gle and the Ele­phant: Thai Amer­i­can Re­la­tions Since 1833, Bangkok, 1997, p. 123.

The City of New York greets the King of Thai­land with a ticker- tape pa­rade on July 5, 1960. Over 750,000 New York­ers turned out to ex­tend this warm wel­come. Photo: Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs. In­deli­ble Im­pres­sions of a Royal Visit, Bangkok, 1999.

A plaque in Cam­brige, Mas­sachusetts com­mem­o­rates the birth­place of the King. Photo cour­tesy of The King of Thai­land Birth­place Foundation ( KTBF) www. thailink. com/ ktbf

His Majesty with for­mer U. S. Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton and Hil­lary Clin­ton dur­ing a state visit in 1996

King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej of Thai­land, Queen Sirikit, and Pres­i­dent Dwight Eisen­hower stand at salute as they re­ceive hon­ors at Na­tional Air­port in Wash­ing­ton on June 28, 1960 on the King’s ar­rival for a state visit. ( AP Photo)

His Majesty and U. S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama dur­ing the Pres­i­dent’s visit to Thai­land in 2012

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