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US Independence Day a time to reflect

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks

Pretoria, July 4, 2020

Good evening.  On behalf of the President of the United States, Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and the American people, I would like to thank you for joining us.

Today marks the 244th anniversary of the founding of our great nation. On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress signed our Declaration of Independence, declaring we were no longer subjects of the British crown.

The 4th of July has historically been a time of celebration among the American people whereby we commemorate the ringing of the bells in Philadelphia which signaled the birth of an independent United States. However, the true meaning of Independence Day is not found in some static moment of the distant past. Our nations greatness & the reason we celebrate this day is that we are always working, always striving towards a better model of democracy, towards that more perfect union.

This year has already been one of the many challenge. Our celebrations are already tempered, and our thoughts are already turned towards the immediate future, and though our current enemy is the invisible one of pandemic, and the visible one of societal justice are difficult ones, rest assured that we shall rise to meet those challenges as we have risen before in the face of tyranny and oppression, all the while drawing on the American tradition of optimism, perseverance and generosity. And, as we stand at certain intersections of our history, this holiday provides us with an opportunity for us to recommit ourselves to the principles enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, and our Constitution and our Bill of Rights that has been modeled upon throughout the world.

As we continue to reckon with the past, we celebrate the American ability to chart our path forward, to view our strengths and weaknesses on the same spectrum, and to constantly adjust, thereby rising to the occasion. And so let us pause for just a moment to remember the founding of our nation, to heed the reminder that even in times of joy and celebration that we should always bear in mind the struggles of the less fortunate, the marginalized, the under-represented, no matter what the nation. The United States will forever remain committed to the principles of freedom, liberty, equality and justice enshrined in our Constitution, and today is an important opportunity to reflect on how we will move forward as a country to uphold these ideals

We must strive every day to work towards that shining city on a hill. We must all put in in this important work to rise above these challenges, to have the difficult conversations, and to create an ongoing dialogue. We must not shie away from these underlying issues, accepting that there is a systemic problem.




February/March 2020















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