Thursday, July 02, 2009

Ambassador Sison’s Remarks Fourth of July Celebration

July 2, 2009 Thank you being here tonight to celebrate the 233rd birthday of our United States of America with us.
We are especially glad to be joined this evening by: His Excellency Fawzi Salloukh, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, representative of the President of the Republic of Lebanon; His Excellency Member of Parliament Ali Bazzi, representative of the Speaker of the Parliament; His Excellency Nassib Lahoud, Minister of State, representative of the Prime Minister; and, His Excellency Member of Parliament Bassam Al-Shabb, representative of the Prime Minister-designate.
It is true that we are celebrating two days early, but for Americans, the 4th of July is a day to reconnect with friends and family, to remember our history, and to renew our commitment to democracy, tolerance, and justice.  As President Obama said in Cairo last month, these are not just American values, these are core principles we share with people everywhere.  Thus, it is fitting that we open our doors and share this day with our friends and neighbors around the world.  Our fates and our fortunes are intertwined as never before.  We all share responsibility for working together to ensure a more peaceful and prosperous future. 
We hope that today's celebration will become tomorrow's partnership.  There's nothing we can't accomplish, no challenge we can't meet, if we work together toward common goals and seek common ground.
Throughout America's history, our basic goals have been to keep the peace, foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty and dignity among peoples and among nations.  Let me say that these principles also underpin the many years of close friendship between the United States and Lebanon.  America is proud to be a partner in supporting Lebanon's economic strength, in supporting Lebanon's education system and civil society.  We are also proud to support the key Lebanese institutions of the Army and the Internal Security Forces.  To our Lebanese guests tonight, let me emphasize that in America, you will continue to find a strong friend and partner, shared values, and an unwavering commitment to your freedom and democracy.
This independence day we here at U.S. Embassy Beirut and all Americans give thanks and praise for our nation's noble beginnings, for its unwavering founders, and for the bravery of all who have fought to sustain it.  I'd like to make a special note of our active duty U.S. military and U.S. veterans here tonight.  Thank you for your service.
We Americans are a proud people.  We are proud of our American cities that pulse with ideas and opportunities.  We are proud of our American small towns, where people build homes and dreams.  We are proud of our nation's beauty, from the Grand Canyon to the Blue Ridge Mountains, from Niagara Falls to Yosemite.  But, truly, in the end, our pride and our strength is in our American people.
July 4 is a time for reflection, to remember the challenges our forebearers faced and to recognize their courage and wisdom. 
President Obama, in his inauguration speech, reminded us that "we understand that greatness is never a given…it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things…who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom. 
For us, President Obama continued, "they packed up their few worldly possessions and travelled across oceans in search of a new life.  They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions, greater than all the differences or birth or wealth or faction."
Continuing to quote…our President, Barack Obama, told us on his Inauguration Day that "we Americans know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.  We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this earth, and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of the tribe shall soon dissolve, that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself."
As in the United States, at the U.S. Embassy, our people, more than anything else, define who we are.  We at the Embassy are very proud of our heritage, too, parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, who came from many places around the globe to build our new country.  Speaking for our U.S. Embassy community, our ancestors came from:   Bermuda, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, England, France,
Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iraq, Ireland, Korea, Lebanon, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, The Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland,
Wales, and West Africa… And we are also proud to boast among our ranks Native American heritage, as well.
We share this with you because we believe that this vibrant diversity makes us stronger, that this wealth of experience makes us more resilient.  I also want to share with you that, in collecting this information, I heard the most amazing stories about the family histories of my U.S. Embassy colleagues.  Within our own Embassy community, many of our family members came to the United States searching for a better life, seeking political or religious freedom or escaping economic hardship.  Some of our family members came as stowaways, or as indentured servants.   Some of us here at the Embassy have families who came to the United States two hundred years ago, but some are first generation, with parents born in foreign lands.
Despite this very varied family history, one thing that unifies us as Americans is that we truly love our national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, which was so beautifully sung by our compatriot, Sabrine Staples.  In additionto the Star Spangled Banner, we Americans truly love our flag, the red, white, and blue.
I would like to thank the members of our Embassy Security Force, who served as our color guard for this evening.  They added much
to our event.
Friends, in closing, please enjoy the evening.
May the red, white, and blue banner of freedom continue to wave high above our beloved country, and above this Embassy here in Awkar.
May God bless our Flag;
May God bless our President;
May God bless America.
And most of all, long live U.S.-Lebanese friendship!
Embassy Of The United States. Beirut. Lebanon - Press Release

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