Official Independence Day Reception
Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires Jennifer Bachus
First and foremost, I want to thank Czech and American healthcare workers and other first responders who served on the frontlines of the pandemic these last 16 months. Both of our countries made great sacrifices and took extraordinary steps to protect and care for our people during this challenging year. We are able to gather today in this beautiful setting thanks to you.
While our pandemic response was not always perfect, Americans — myself included — continue to learn from every experience and always strive to do better.
Over the last 245 years, Americans have worked to make our union more perfect, tapping into the talents of our diverse population to strengthen our great nation and ensure our enduring commitment to democracy.
On this evening dedicated to celebrating America’s birthday, I want to take a moment to recognize another important U.S. holiday. One that was a sacred day for our country for 156 years, but only added to our official calendar just two weeks ago – Juneteenth.
President Lincoln abolished slavery on January 1, 1863, and yet it took two and half years—until June 19, 1865—for enslaved African American men, women, and children in Texas to find out they were finally free.
By celebrating Juneteenth, we not only recognize the more painful elements of our history, but we also honor our values of freedom, justice, and opportunity for all. And we acknowledge the significant work that remains to make those ideals a reality for every American. Juneteenth and July 4th are both special days for us to reflect upon our history and recommit ourselves to wiping out the inequities and biases that remain.
America’s critics are quick to point out when we fail to live up to our own ideals. As someone who is well known for being direct, I welcome this scrutiny. In the famous words of American author James Baldwin, grandson of a slave, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” I am proud that my nation continues to do just that. Confronting our painful past through open, honest conversation allows us to find common ground and forge ahead towards true equity in the pursuit of happiness.
As both Czechs and Americans well know, democracy and the freedoms it brings does not always come easily. We must fight – and vote – for our ideals to prevail, especially because our democratic path is not always linear. We ensure the strength of our democracies and maintain basic rights and freedoms, for all citizens, by holding our leaders accountable, insisting on a free press and independent judiciary, and calling out injustice whenever we see it.
Our countries share a commitment to democratic ideals and institutions, a drive for innovation and economic development, and a desire for international cooperation to solve the world’s toughest problems.
With many large and small acts, you, our Czech allies, have demonstrated you are among our strongest partners in supporting equality, dignity, and freedom for all around the world.
We strive to live these ideals at home, and to promote them together around the world. That doesn’t always make for easy diplomacy, but we’re proud to stand with our Allies when they make tough choices and hold others accountable.
Together, I know we can continue building a future that is more fair, more prosperous, and more peaceful than our past.
Happy Independence Day!