Independence Day 2017 Remarks

Charge d’Affaires Kelly Adams-Smith
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Chief of Mission Residence

Dear Ministers, your Excellencies, distinguished colleagues and guests, vítám vás všechny. Welcome to you all. We are so happy to have you here to celebrate our Independence Day.

America is a big, diverse country. As a nation of immigrants and descendants of immigrants, Americans are not united by a common race or religion or ancestry. In some parts of the United States, we’re a melting pot. In others we’re more of a mosaic. But no matter our differences, at this time of the year we come together to celebrate our country’s Independence Day, with food, family, and, often, fireworks. On this we all can agree.

Americans also agree on something else. They believe in the ideas enshrined in our 241-year-old Declaration of Independence: that people have a right to choose their government; that all of us are created equal; that we are all endowed with certain basic rights. This bold Declaration not only spurred a revolutionary war for independence, it also unleashed a revolution in human affairs. Since 1776 there have been 120 declarations of independence around the world.

One of those was issued in October 1918 by Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, declaring an independent Czechoslovak Republic. Next year both our countries will celebrate the centennial of that historic event.

Both our countries know democracy is a process. It can be messy. And it is never finished. The founding fathers had this in mind when they wrote in the preamble to our Constitution “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…” It wasn’t already perfect the way it was. It wasn’t finished; over time it would be changed and improved. And so it is that each generation must strive to make our democracy better. The American experiment began in 1776 in Philadelphia, but it didn’t end there. The drive to form a “more perfect union” and live up to the ideals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, took us through the Civil War, the Women’s Suffrage Movement, and the Civil Rights movement. Those challenges made our country stronger. This work continues today because there is always more we can do to achieve the equality and access to opportunity that invigorates our diverse society.

The Czech people have added to the richness of America’s diversity. Americans of Czech birth or ancestry, from Madeleine Albright to Anton Cermak, are vital threads in the rich tapestry that is the United States. They are Nobel Laureates and Olympians, astronauts and artists, business people and baseball players. They have made America what it is today. And so, in Masaryktown, Florida; Prague, Oklahoma; Pilsen, Kansas; and Czechville, Wisconsin, and in all other cities and towns in the United States next week, Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life will gather together, just like you here today, to celebrate the process that is our democracy.

Happy Independence Day!