GALLERY: US ambassador marks Pocahontas anniversary with final speech in Gravesend
PUBLISHED: 14:16 12 January 2017
The event kicked off a year of special commemorative events
The US ambassador to the UK has given his final official speech in Gravesend to marked the 400th anniversary of the death of Pocahontas.
Matthew Barzun, who has served as UK ambassador since December 2013, spoke at a special ceremony in front of local schoolchildren at St George’s Church on Wednesday (January 11).
The event kicked off a year of events marking the death of Pocahontas in 1617 and was attended by her direct descendant, John Rolfe.
They were joined by Crow Creek Cultural Ambassador to the UK Stephanie Pratt, Gravesham Mayor Greta Goatley, Councillor Jordan Meade and students from Thamesview School.
Before the ceremony, the dignitaries and pupils laid 21 roses at the statue of Pocahontas outside St George’s Church - each rose representing a year of her life.
The Native American, a member of the Pamunkey Tribe, married British tobacco planter John Rolfe in 1614 and the couple had a son, Thomas, the following year.
The family travelled to London in 1616 and Pocahontas became a celebrity, but she died a year later in Gravesend when they were preparing to return to Virginia.
Native American artist Ethan Brown, a member of Pocahontas’ tribe, created a special gourd depicting her journey to the spirit world that will serve as the Pocahontas 2017 logo.
Ambassador Barzun said: “We have heard today how Pocahontas’ bridge building inspires people. Heading home, I am so full of hope from today and inspired by Pocahontas and her example.”
Virginia Crompton, chief executive of the Big Ideas Company, which is the programme’s creative director, added: “This event marked a unique moment in history reminding us that English-US relations go back to the time of Pocahontas, and we’re delighted the US Ambassador was able to join us and share his reflections.”