On Wednesday 11 May 2011, United States Ambassador His Excellency Mr Jeffery Bleich, joined the then Chief Minister Jon Stanhope in planting a Washingtonia filifera (Californian fan palm) at the National Arboretum Canberra to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Australian American Association (AAA) (Canberra Division).
The Canberra Division of the AAA was established in 1960 to build friendship, mutual understanding and co-operation between the people of Australia and the United States of America.
Even before the establishment of the Canberra Division, the Association in 1948, undertook to establish a memorial in Canberra to recognise the sacrifices of United States’ servicemen and women during World War II (1939-1945).
The memorial is one of this city’s best known land marks and is affectionately known to Canberrans as ‘The Eagle’. It was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on 16 February 1954.
In 1989, the Association established the Sir John Crawford Scholarship to assist young Canberrans to travel to the United States to study. Today, this initiative is proudly known as the Australian American Association Canberra Scholarship.
The Californian fan palm is a cold hardy palm, native to the south-west United States of America. There is a longstanding friendship between our two nations and I am delighted that His Excellency has been able to join us here today to plant this Californian fan palm which will continue to be a living reminder of the great strength of that relationship’, Mr Stanhope said.
Photographs of the Tree Planting Ceremony