Remarks of Ambassador Terence P. McCulley at the Celebration of the 238th Anniversary of American Independence

 Ambassador Terence P. McCulley during his Speech

U.S. Embassy Chancery Atrium, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Remarks by Ambassador Terence P. McCulley


Thank you for joining us on the occasion of the celebration of the 238th anniversary of our Declaration of Independence.    In a letter to his wife on the eve of its adoption, John Adams, one of our Founding Fathers (and second president) wrote that the day “ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shows, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfire and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, I can affirm that in the United States, most Americans have followed Adams’ injunction, and we come together as families and communities to celebrate, and to reflect on our values and on our history as a nation.  If July 4th celebrations offer us time to reflect on our founding principles, they also afford us an occasion to ponder the challenges we faced as a nation to construct our democratic institutions and to realize the proposition that all men (and women) are created equal.

And each July 4, we are reminded that our past informs our ability to achieve the lofty goals of our Founding Fathers.  151 years ago, we were in the midst of a Civil War that nearly tore our nation asunder.  Between July 1 and July 3, 1863, North and South fought at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in the bloodiest battle in American history, with more than 50,000 casualties.  The fighting ended on July 3, and as the Confederate forces retreated south on Independence Day, it was clear the Battle of Gettysburg signaled the beginning of the end for the Confederacy.     The Civil War would continue for two more bloody years, but Gettysburg was a turning point in what some historians have termed the Second American Revolution.

For if the Civil War ended the evil institution of slavery in the United States, we nonetheless struggled for more than a century to fully realize the lofty principles contained in our Declaration of Independence, and our democratic experiment remains a work in progress.   Women had to wait until the 20thcentury for equal rights, and the descendants of those freed by Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation only attained full civil rights near the close of the last century.  And the work continues.  The effort to solidify the rights of the LGTBI community as human rights will mean that someday soon everyone in America will have marriage equality.

All of this by way of suggesting that the construction and consolidation of democratic institutions is a difficult and iterative process, requiring at once visionary leaders and the commitment, courage and energy of an engaged citizenry.  The United States is continuing on this journey and I am convinced Côte d’Ivoire is traveling the same road.

As you work together to move Côte d’Ivoire forward, addressing the challenges of governance, and of corruption; and as you seek to diversify the Ivoirian economy, encouraging investments in agriculture, and in manufacturing, know that you have the friendship and partnership of the government and people of the United States.  The United States stands ready to deploy its programs and resources in support of your national priorities, from public health to justice, from food security to national security, and from the battle to contain malaria to the daily struggles of the thousands of Ivoirians living with HIV and AIDS.  Côte d’Ivoire is country blessed with both abundant human and natural resources, and we therefore we seek partnership not dependency; we seek to build capacity not undermine local initiative.

Finally, while government can and should provide for its citizens, ultimately the private sector must be the engine of economic growth.  If your government continues to improve the business climate , I am convinced you will find American businesses and investors eager to enter the prime gateway to the francophone CFA zone  That will create jobs here in Côte d’Ivoire while offering expertise, innovation and some of the world’s finest products.

Côte d’Ivoire and the United States have traveled a long road together over the past 50 plus years.  We are two young nations, forged by traumatic civil wars, enriched by the diversity of our peoples, and bound together by a common commitment to regional and global peace and security.  And, we’re two nations that sure gave it our all at the World Cup in Brazil!  And so in celebration of these ties that bind, please join me now in proposing a birthday toast to the United States of America, and a toast to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, in recognition of the ties of friendship that link our two great countries.  [Toast].  Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your kind attention.

[Senior Ivoirian Government Office Brief Intervention]

Concluding Remarks:

To conclude this evening’s ceremony, I would  like to express my gratitude to the American Chamber of Commerce and our generous corporate sponsors; to Stéphane Wrembel and his fabulous band,; and to our Embassy staff for the contributions that you have made to making tonight a success.  And thanks to my wife for all her hard work in pulling this event together; and to our distinguished guests, thank you once again for joining us this evening.

Happy Birthday America, and let the celebration continue!