The 2014 edition of the Anglo-American Press Association’s annual Gala on June 12 was sunny, in every respect: the weather was perfect, the attendance was high (93) and the mood was bright and cheery. Coming just days after the successful commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings — which involved both the US and UK embassies, as well as many AAPA members — everyone seemed ready to party.

This year’s event was hosted by the US Embassy, in the Ambassador’s Residence.

In the absence of an Ambassador (Jane D. Hartley had been nominated only the previous week), Chargé d’Affaires Mark Taplin welcomed the group, delivering brief remarks on the importance of “finding the best words,” both in journalism and in diplomacy. His example: A.J. Liebling’s famous line, written from liberated Paris just after D-Day, “For the first time in my life and perhaps the last, I have lived for a week in a great city where everyone is happy.” Taplin made the point that Liebling’s quote might have worked as a tweet, but it was better understood in the context of the other 990 words of his New Yorker essay. Alluding to the transformation that the Internet has brought to diplomats as well as journalists, he concluded with another famous Liebling quote: “The way to write is well, and how is your own business.”

British Ambassador Peter Ricketts continued the D-Day theme, reminding the group that Queen Elizabeth was the living link between the previous week’s commemorations and the actual events of June 1944. He was particularly taken by the obvious affection the French displayed for the Queen, “whom they have known their entire lives.” Imagine, he said, hearing “Vive la Reine“ just outside the Conciergerie. Sir Peter also mentioned how remarkable it was to have the Queen sleeping in his home, and to think that at the same time, two other heads of state were in bed on the same street.

The Ambassador also devoted some of his remarks to international affairs, commending France for its intervention in Mali and explaining that the British, French and Americans are working closely not only on Syria, but also on the kidnapped-girls situation in Nigeria. In short, he said, “The tri-national arrangement is very strong.”

As one of the honorary co-presidents of the AAPA, he also made clear that, as is custom, he would be happy to host next year’s event.

AAPA President John Keating closed the formal part of the event with more good news: a growing membership (up 22 percent over the past three years) and solid financial reserves (allowing a 40 percent reduction in this year’s gala ticket).

He also referred to D-Day, pointing out that in July 1944, member John G. Morris left his post as a Life photo editor in London to join the Allied troops in France. His book of letters and photographs, Quelque Part en France, has just been published, and the AAPA will celebrate John, his book and his amazing career at the Hôtel Scribe, site of the Allied Press Center during the war, on Sept. 11.

At that point, the “garden party” moved from a reception room to the actual gardens of the US Ambassadorial Residence, and the sun continued to shine.

-Ann Morrison