Remarks by US charge d’affaires a.i. Dean Thompson on the celebration of Independence Day
On behalf of President Barack Obama, and on behalf of the American people, welcome to the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest. It is a pleasure to host our second Independence Day celebration at our chancery - a small piece of America within your beautiful country. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our generous sponsors who have made these beautiful and entertaining arrangements possible.
We have a great deal to celebrate this year – 135 years of diplomatic relations between the United States and Romania, 70 years since the end of World War II and 150 years since the end of the American Civil War. Each of these has particular historical significance and we are happy that you have joined us to celebrate them.
239 years ago, in 1776, our country’s founders adopted the Declaration of Independence, establishing a nation based on equality and freedom. This evening, we honor the proud tradition of freedom in the United States and the outstanding individuals it has produced.
To help illuminate that tradition, we have chosen the phrase “Let Freedom Ring” as the theme of this year’s reception. This phrase from the song “America” was most notably quoted by Dr. Martin Luther King in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech where he called for universal equality. The people pictured above the stage are the embodiment of the freedom that we in the United States have enjoyed and endeavored to spread since our founding.
Above us, we see George Washington, the father of our country and Abraham Lincoln, the president who kept our nation unified and ended slavery some 150 years ago. We see Amelia Earhart, a celebrated aviator, and Mark Twain, a literary luminary who, quite humorously, illustrated the hypocrisy of racism. We see Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony who successfully fought for women’s right to vote. We see Frederick Douglas and Martin Luther King, Jr. – important civil rights leaders in American history.
Finally, we see President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who led our country through the Second World War and implemented important economic reforms. Notice his wheelchair. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which required that no reasonable accommodation could be denied to a citizen, irrespective of his or her abilities. In honor of that historic event we thought it fitting to highlight one of our great presidents who was confined to a wheelchair for the entirety of his presidency, showing that it’s not the strength of our bodies that propels us, but the strength of our character.
I'm proud to represent the United States in front of a partner and ally that is showing its own strength of character in overcoming the difficult legacy of communism and building institutions to ensure that the Euro-Atlantic values of democracy, freedom and rule of law can thrive. A partner dealing directly and forthrightly with problems like corruption, organized crime, cybercrime, global terrorism, human trafficking and drug smuggling. A partner determined to provide the resources required for our common security and defense.
As a result of our partnership, we see a Romanian military the envy of many in the region – a key strategic partner for the United States; we see Romanian law enforcement institutions that are committed to joining us in the fight against global terror and organized crime. Judicial and rule of law institutions are committed to ensuring that your citizens’ resources are directed where they are intended, rather than the pockets of those inclined to undercut the security of the state. You have exciting entrepreneurial efforts underway, something our Embassy has highlighted this year through our Entrepreneur of the Month program, with dedicated businesspeople focused on taking risks to pursue dreams, create jobs and grow your economy. In civil society we see efforts to embrace your diversity, so tragically cut down by the regimes of old, but embraced by a new generation willing to celebrate the concept of a multi-ethnic Romania, diverse peoples bound by common heritage – a concept that has never been more important as Romania faces the demographic realities of the coming century.
And as we reflect on these opportunities, we must also consider the awesome responsibilities that come with them. American independence day is also a celebration and embrace of freedom and our commitment to spreading it throughout the world in cooperation with our allies. 11 years ago Romania acceded to the greatest military alliance in the history of the world dedicated to protecting our democracies. Today we stand side by side with Romania, jointly committed to the ideals and values for which this alliance stands. In the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty, before any mention of military strategy of common defense, NATO members commit to, “safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law.” And it’s on these principles that Romania and the United States continue to build their close, bilateral strategic partnership.
Values, principles. They bind us to our common cause, and ensure that our paths are clearly illuminated. We hold fast to them and in so doing, set an example for others. I’m overwhelmingly grateful to our founding fathers for their moral courage and their foresight. When they noted in the preamble to our constitution, that we would seek to “form a more perfect union” – they gave us an incredible gift in the form of a challenge to ensure this democratic experiment is never left unguarded. They instilled in us an understanding that we were to vigilantly strive to “secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.”
Mr. President, thank you again for joining us here tonight. Again, it’s with great honor that I stand here tonight, representing the United States of America in front of our strategic partner and ally, and pledge our full commitment to this relationship, to another 135 years of close partnership and to the common ideals for which so many have sacrificed so much. Thank you.
And now ladies and gentlemen, it's my great pleasure to introduce President Klaus Iohannis and ask if he would say a few words on this special occasion.