U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
At the celebration of U.S. Independence Day
Monday, July 4, 2016
U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa
(As prepared for delivery)
Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow Ambassadors, Diplomats, Friends! Thank you for joining us today to celebrate the 240th anniversary of American Independence. Together with the U.S. Charge d’Affaires to the African Union and the UN Economic Commission of Africa, Ambassador Susan Page, and our entire Mission team, it is an honor to have you join us on this very important day.
America is a country of opportunity and innovation, and a country that prides itself on its diversity. Largely a nation of immigrants, American citizens represent cultures and ethnic groups from across the globe, and we believe that has been one of our greatest strengths that has contributed to the dynamism and creativity of our culture, economic and academic worlds. Simply put, we could not imagine an America that is not diverse, that does not include peoples from all races and ethnic groups, and is not open to all forms of diversity. Yes, we can always seek greater integration of our society, but we take pride in the contributions immigrants from all corners of the world have made to our nation.
The theme we chose for this year’s celebration of our Independence Day is Innovation and Diversity. Be it a man, a woman, an African American, an Asian American, or an American representing another type of our broad diversity, we take pride in the diversity of American society and of the Americans who have contributed to innovation in our country. Diversity and innovation are strengths, and build on each other.
George Washington Carver. Steve Jobs. Grace Murray Hopper. These are three Americans who represent the core themes of this year’s Independence Day celebration. They are innovators, and they come from very diverse backgrounds.
George Washington Carver was born a slave, and became one of America’s most famous agricultural scientists. Steve Jobs was an American of Syrian heritage whose company revolutionized the world of computers and information. Grace Hopper, a woman, invented the computer language COBOL. During this reception I encourage you to read more about these Americans as well as many others on the screens throughout the room.
For Americans, the 4th of July is a time not just for celebrating, but for reaffirming our commitment to our country, its independence and our common values as Americans. Every year on this holiday, citizens of the United States, no matter our national origin, political party, age, gender, sexual orientation or economic class, reflect on the meaning of independence, founded on the principle of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
I have been privileged to serve in Ethiopia, and I have been fortunate to witness a remarkable period in U.S.-Ethiopian relations. I have also been honored to travel around this great country and experience first-hand the diversity of Ethiopia. From Lalibela to Afar, from Arba Minch to Jijiga, from Bahar Dar to Hawasa, I have seen Ethiopia’s diversity, met its warm people, and experienced its rich cultures. With my recent visit to Afar I am proud to say that I have now visited every region in Ethiopia, although I know I still have much more to see!
Finally, I would like to thank the government and people of Ethiopia for your continued support, friendship and willingness to work with us on so many important initiatives which help to make this world a better and safer place for Ethiopians and Americans alike.
Without further ado, I would like to introduce my colleague and good friend, Ambassador Susan Page.