Independence Day 2017 Remarks | June 22, 2017, Rydhave
Ministers, Ambassadors, distinguished colleagues, and friends: Welcome, and thank you for joining us as we celebrate the anniversary of our nation’s founding, just a little bit early so we could catch you before you head out on vacation.
Nearly two hundred and forty one years ago – on a day likely much hotter than this one – representatives from our thirteen colonies declared a fragile and fledgling independence. It’s fairly certain that their individual values varied, but their principles were universal: all are created equal and endowed with the unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We are in fact a nation founded solely on principles; not an identity, not an ethnicity, not a religion, but an ideal.
We’ve spent the past 241 years trying to live up to those principles. At times we’ve failed, but often we have succeeded. And most often in the company of like-minded nations.
Today, with our partners in Denmark and around the world, we face a set of complex challenges: extremism and radicalization; irregular immigration; economic struggles; geopolitical confrontations; environmental and resource challenges, among others.
Americans can’t hope to carry the day alone. If we are to stay true to our nation’s principles and expect success, we need friends and we need allies.
The great American author Mark Twain wrote that your friends define you. If he was right, then Americans are very fortunate. You all gathered here today bear witness to this.
Thankfully, whether it is working with Denmark and other allies to defeat ISIS, stabilize troubled regions, or build economic opportunity in other parts of the world, we stand together.
We definitely live in challenging and changing times. But many things actually remain constant, including our steadfast friendship and alliance with Denmark and with Europe.
On the Fourth of July, Americans celebrate our nation, our commitment to freedom and democracy, our exceptional diversity, and our community with peoples around the world.
I cannot imagine a better place outside our own borders to honor our freedoms than with you all here today. Having just spent three days in Bornholm at Folkemødet with tens of thousands of Danes, I’m even more mindful than usual of the great fortune we have as societies that enjoy freedoms of speech and assembly, in which people can express their views and influence the direction of government.
It’s a great blessing.
In closing, I want to thank our magnificent Embassy team which makes all of this possible. I apologize for the few extra grey hairs you may have acquired in the process.
I also want to thank all the very generous sponsors of today’s reception for their exceptional contributions, without which we would have to resort to serving only soda and popcorn.
And again, thank you very much to all of you for being here today with us.
Please enjoy the rest of the event!