Remarks by Ambassador Adler at the Embassy’s Reception in Honor of the 247th Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America



Remarks by Ambassador Adler at the Embassy’s Reception in Honor of the 247th Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America

June 27, 2023

Your Excellency Vice President Abdelbagi,

Honorable Acting Foreign Minister,

Honorable Ministers of Health and Petroleum,

Honored guests, friends, and colleagues.

As we celebrate the 247th anniversary of the independence of the United States, I would like to start by considering the historical context.

When the members of the Continental Congress issued the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, they were not acting from a position of military strength.

Four days later, George Washington – then General Washington, who would become our first President – publicly read the Declaration to his forces in New York City.

Four days after that, His Majesty’s Ships the Phoenix and the Rose sailed up the Hudson River.  Within two months, New York City fell to an invading force and would remain occupied until the end of the war.

But those who signed the Declaration of Independence did act from a position of faith that the duty to establish a new nation was both theirs and achievable.

Many, though not all, were people of faith, and they spoke and wrote accordingly.

Soon after the Declaration was issued, John Page — a friend of Thomas Jefferson, who was the drafter of the document and our third president — wrote to Jefferson and said:

“We know the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong. Do you not think an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?”

But the founders also understood the importance of human responsibility and accountability.

As President Biden has said, our Declaration of Independence was “a call to action, not a reason for complacency or a claim of victory.”

And, indeed, the founders acted.   After achieving independence, they did not opt to establish a new monarchy or a period of indefinite rule by those in place.  Instead, they acted to provide for regular election of our country’s leaders.

This reflected in part the personality of the man who led the revolution to military success.  He knew that the victory he sought was not for or about himself, but for his country.  After victory eventually came – at the Battle of Yorktown on October 19, 1781 – General Washington wrote to the Continental Congress and said:

“The unremitting ardor which actuated every officer and soldier in the combined army on this occasion has principally led to this important event.  In performing my part towards its accomplishments, I consider myself to have done only my duty and in the execution of that I ever feel myself happy.”

General Washington did not see the victory as his own; it was his country’s.  Today, we honor all those who helped achieve our independence and who have served our country ever since, both those whose names are well-recorded in history and those whose names are not.

The founders also accepted that our Constitution would not be a static document, and the amendment process began almost immediately after the Constitution was signed.

The founding generation had its limitations and significant moral failings.  The founders included slaveholders.

Each subsequent generation has worked – and at times struggled – to help form what the Constitution calls “a more perfect union,” or what our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, called “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”   Each generation has benefited from the leadership of people like the late Justice Thurgood Marshall who said, “Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on.”

As we commemorate Independence Day, we honor the sacrifices made by men and women in uniform for our country, its allies, and its partners.

We also remember the long history of U.S. foreign assistance around the world.

An early chapter in this history includes the efforts led by Herbert Hoover (who would later become our 31st President) to provide humanitarian assistance to Europeans suffering from the impact of the First World War.  Another chapter followed the end of the Second World War, with President Harry Truman’s decision to commit resources to aid the peoples of Greece, Turkey, and Western Europe – and to support the post-war transition of Japan, South Korea, and other countries.

In 1961, his first year of office, President John F. Kennedy worked with Congress to start another chapter with the establishment of the United States Agency for International Development.  This was consistent with President Kennedy’s inaugural address in which he said:

“My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

Today, I am sure that President Kennedy would have said “humanity,” but the message remains as relevant as it was in 1961.

I am enormously proud of the assistance that USAID and other U.S. government agencies provide in South Sudan and around the world.  Last year, our assistance to the people of South Sudan was over $1 billion, and we will spend as much this year.

Where U.S. assistance programs have been most successful, that success has reflected a spirit of shared commitment and partnership.  Through this spirit and their own political will and effort, numerous countries have moved from being aid recipients to aid donors and have assumed or resumed leadership roles in the international community.   These include some of our closest allies around the world, and as Averell Harriman – who led the Marshall Plan in Europe – said, we are lucky to have allies.

My wish for the South Sudanese people is that they succeed through the achievement of peace commitments and actions beyond the end of the transitional period to establish a stable, prosperous, and peaceful democracy, that is a partner of the United States and other fellow democracies.

To echo Justice Marshall’s words, may the South Sudanese people make it, protect it, and pass it on.

Thank you.