Good evening. I am delighted to welcome you to the U.S. Embassy here in Burkina Faso to join in our celebration of the 247th anniversary of the independence of the United States.
I would like to start, given the insecurity and other challenges facing Burkina Faso, with a moment of silence to honor and remember those, civilians and security forces alike, who have been killed or have suffered loss, injury or displacement.
[pause] Thank you.
I would like to acknowledge those playing a special role this evening. First, the children’s band, Association Musicale pour les Enfants du Monde – thank you for your charming renditions of the Burkinabe and American national anthems. Please join me in a round of applause for them.
And let me also thank our Marine Security Guards for the presenta@on of the colors to mark the beginning of our celebration. (In English – A big thank you to the best Marine Security Guard detachment in our region for the presentation of the colors!) [applause]
We are grateful for the support of ten U.S. companies whose sponsorship enhanced this evening’s reception. These companies demonstrate the important role of the private sector in the economy and are a link between our two nations. Please look for their names on the banner by the entrance. [applause]
And I want to thank everyone at the Embassy for their hard work in preparing our event tonight. (In English – To everyone who works at the Embassy – I am very proud of your efforts to make this Independence Day celebration so special. Thank you!) [applause]
The Fourth of July is a joyful day for Americans. Ever since 1776, we have celebrated July 4th as the birth of American independence. Friends and family gather to mark the day in many ways, such as barbeques, baseball games, parades, and fireworks.
However, we know the Fourth of July is more than just a celebration with great food and music. It is also a day when Americans
– reflect on our country’s early vision for independence and liberty,
– recognize the importance of protecting our democratic values, and
– honor our diversity as a strength of our nation and central to a peaceful and dignified future.
There have been painful chapters in our history, but again and again Americans recommit to strengthening our democracy, respecting the rule of law, and protecting civil liberties for all. As noted in our constitution, we seek to create “a more perfect union.”
Over the nearly three years I have been Ambassador in Burkina Faso, I have had the privilege of meeting many Burkinabe, including those of you here tonight. I see that you, and they, share our aspirations for democracy, prosperity, and peace, and appreciate the richness of a strong civil society, diverse communities, and vibrant cultures present in Burkina Faso.
But I have also learned of the brutality of armed groups attempting to destroy the strong fabric of Burkinabe society. I have watched you grieve while working towards a more secure Burkina Faso.
I have talked with women from communities threatened by violent extremism and discussed their work to maintain social cohesion in the face of instability. Despite enormous strain on personal resources, these women generously opened their
homes to shelter and feed those whose homes were inaccessible due to violence. The generosity of these women protects the dignity and welfare of all Burkinabe people.
I have met with journalists who continue the difficult work of covering the news despite instability and personal threats. These dedicated men and women bravely report on issues such as security, governance, corruption, and the threat of misinformation. They are vital to ensuring that Burkinabe citizens remain informed, an essential component of democracy and good governance.
I have also met those working against trafficking in persons, making significant progress in bringing traffickers to justice and in protecting at-risk communties.
I have met teachers and administrators working under exceptionally difficult circumstances to improve the future of Burkina Faso’s children. One principal in particular impressed me with her dedication to inclusion for girls, children with disabilities, and other marginalized groups. She models the peaceful, inclusive world to which we all aspire and in which every person deserves to live.
Let me also acknowledge all healthcare professionals who work in equally difficult circumstances for the well-being of the population.
These are just a few of the many inspiring Burkinabe I have met. Everywhere I look I see courage, determination, and hope for a more secure, more prosperous, and more democratic future.
And as you shape the future — your own sovereign future –the United States will continue to stand with the people of Burkina Faso.
Before we turn to the toast, I would like to say a few words in English.
To all the Americans here tonight, I hope that you had a chance to celebrate and reflect on the 247th anniversary of our nation’s creation and independence. We are far from the parades and fireworks, but each of us carries what it means to be American and what it means to represent the United States with us. Thank you for also being Ambassadors of our country here.
To those from the Embassy, let me thank you again for your hard work and commitment to our mission and our community. I appreciate what you have done professionally and personally to support one another and to promote our policies. To those who are moving on this summer, best of luck to you on your next adventure.
[TOAST – Raise Glass]
Please join me in a toast.
Long live the Fourth of July!
Long live the friendship between our two peoples!
Happy July 4 – and Bonne Fete.