Good evening, I am delighted to welcome all of you to the U.S. Embassy to commemorate the 246th anniversary of the United States of America. Tonight marks the first U.S. national day ceremony we have hosted since 2019. I am pleased that the global and local efforts to confront the pandemic have led to this moment when we can once again gather in person.
Let me thank Nourat and the Lions for that beautiful rendition of the American and of the Burkina national anthems. And let me also thank our Marine Security Guards for their presentation, along with the national anthems, set the tone for tonight’s reception. And let me thank all those at the Embassy who worked so hard to pull everything together for this evening. Let’s give them all a round of applause.
You have noticed that our flag is flying at half-mast. President Biden orders US flags to half-mast in honor of the victims of the Highland Park, Illinois shooting. Here in Burkina Faso, we are witnessing attacks with many victims. Our hearts go out to the victims in the United States as well as the victims in Burkina Faso.
I would like to ask you to observe a minute’s silence in their memory. Thank you.
Two hundred and forty-six years ago, the Declaration of Independence, our founding document, enshrined a promise, and I quote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness; that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
The Constitution and its first ten amendments enumerate the rights we hold dear, including freedom of speech, of assembly, of religion, among others. The Constitution refers to “creating a more perfect union” and that is the challenge of any democracy, to create a more perfect union, to preserve and protect rights, to give voice to all its people, to create a government and institutions which will respond to the needs of its people. Over time, we as a nation have worked, and even fought, to expand those rights and to strengthen our democracy so that the promise of these words extends to all in law and in practice. We have done so by abolishing slavery, securing voting rights, and promoting the equality of women, of minorities, of LGBTQ+ persons, among other acts. Nurturing the rule of law is a continuing duty in any democracy.
We realize that the creation of a more perfect union is ongoing, at times straining our institutions and our society. Our work fighting for equality, respect for diversity, and rule of law remains at the core of America’s mission. The United States and its close partners understand that building a more equitable, inclusive, and secure society is our common goal. Whether eliminating gender-based violence or ending racial discrimination, there is always more work to be done – but what cause could be more noble?
And so, as we look back on nearly two-and-a-half centuries of American history, we do so with humility but also with pride – at how we learn from the past, identify our challenges, and take them on, and continuously renew our society so that it is more inclusive, more open, more just, and, simply, greater.
I trust that there is something in the American experience that will resonate here in Burkina Faso and contribute toward the transition to a democratically elected government and the protection of human rights and civil liberties. We look forward to seeing the concrete, specific steps the transition government will take to ensure fair and credible elections and the timely return to a democratically elected, civilian-led government.
The coup had profound consequences on our engagement in Burkina Faso, including the termination of some of our programs. That said, the United States is keenly aware of the challenges faced by Burkina Faso and is continuing our engagement and programs in many significant ways. Our people-to-people partnership continues as strong as ever. Our humanitarian assistance never stopped and indeed has increased as needs rose and then as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has caused death and tremendous hardship to those in Ukraine, and the effects of which reverberate around the world. Our development efforts aim to promote public health, resilience, economic growth, democracy, and good governance. The United States supports Burkina Faso and its current international partners in addressing the security challenges in the Sahel. This is difficult work, but together, we can turn the tide against the forces of violent extremism.
I treasure the opportunity my position as Ambassador gives me to meet Burkinabé from all walks of life. Your perspectives on the current context shape my perceptions and understanding of the complexities facing the country. It has also given me profound respect for the people of Burkina Faso and your creative minds, passionate hearts, and resilient outlook as you tackle Burkina’s challenges. The United States values the seventy-year long relationship with Burkina Faso and I remain optimistic that we can make progress together on our common goals in the upcoming year.
I want to thank you again for your company and please enjoy the rest of the evening.