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U.S. CHARGE D’AFFAIRES a.i. DUANE BUTCHER’S Remarks on the Occasion of the 238th Celebration of the Declaration of Independence

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July 3, 2014

 

Prime Minister Victor Ponta,

Ambassadors,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

On behalf of the President of the United States Barack Obama, and on behalf of the American people, welcome to the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest. It is a pleasure to host this Independence Day celebration at our new chancery on a small piece of America within your great country. It is wonderful to see the Embassy decorated in red, white, and blue.

 

In 1776, our country’s founders signed the Declaration of Independence, establishing a nation based on equality and freedom. This evening, we honor our Founding Fathers’ patriotism and sacrifice, and recommit ourselves to live up to their democratic ideals and values. We are proud of our history and are honored to celebrate it tonight with you.

 

To help illuminate that history, we have chosen the song “America the Beautiful” as the theme of this year’s reception. Written by Katharine Lee Bates in 1913, the song’s bold imagery and uplifting melody have led some to suggest that it should be our national anthem. Praising America’s physical beauty, its lyrics also powerfully express themes of patriotism, freedom, and brotherhood.

 

Tonight we reflect on America’s extraordinary beauty, from the rolling dunes of Cape Cod, to the gleaming skyscrapers of New York City, across the “amber waves of grain” of the great plains, over the majestic Rocky Mountains to California’s golden shore. We reflect on the awe-inspiring beauty of the Grand Canyon and the other natural treasures of our National Park system.

 

Those of us fortunate enough to live and work in Romania have come to appreciate its striking beauty, from the golden beaches of the Black Sea (from which I’ve just returned), to the inspiring peaks of the Carpathians (where my sons learned to ski), to the pristine natural beauty of the Danube Delta, to the historic villages of Transylvania, and the renowned painted monasteries of Bucovina.

 

But what truly makes America beautiful is its people and the values they uphold. We are free to express our beliefs, free to worship as we choose, and free to vote for those who will lead us. As Americans we are bound by the conviction that these freedoms must be upheld for every one of us, and that no person is above the law.

 

Our democracy is a work in progress. Each generation must strive to perfect the values of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. With each succeeding generation, we have come closer to embodying the democratic vision of our Founding Fathers as equal rights have been extended to workers, women, and minorities. Embracing diversity and tolerance has made us stronger.

In the present generation, we have made tremendous strides toward equality for the LGBT community. Their rights are human rights. Their struggle is a new civil rights movement in the United States and around the world.

 

In the past two months, Vice President Biden, Secretary of Defense Hagel, Secretary of the Navy Mabus, and two Congressional delegations have visited Romania. These visits demonstrate how much the United States values our strategic partnership.

 

At the core of our partnership are democratic values that the United States and Romania share. Romania has made outstanding progress fighting corruption, building independent institutions, and creating a society in which all are equal under the law. We want to help Romania maintain this progress.

 

Above all, the United States wants Romania to succeed. We want Romania to thrive, for its economy to flourish, and for trade and investment to grow. Transparency, stability, and predictability are the key to realizing Romania’s economic potential and increasing wealth and prosperity. The United States and Romania are already close economic partners. We have invested billions of dollars in Romania since 1990, leading to the creation of thousands of jobs. With the adoption of a Transatlantic Trade and Investment agreement between the United States and the European Union, trade between our countries will be even easier.

Our commitment to one another within NATO continues to deepen. Construction of the missile defense site in Deveselu is on track and on budget for completion in 2015. And our joint naval, air, and ground training has intensified in the face of Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea. As Vice

 

President Biden said when he was here, we honor our sacred commitment to our NATO allies’ defense. In your 10 years since joining NATO, you’ve made valuable contributions to the alliance. On June 29 Romania ended its 12 year combat mission in Afghanistan. Romania has truly been our ally in Afghanistan and Romania’s brave soldiers are our comrades in arms. I was proud to accompany Prime Minister Ponta to Kandahar last weekend to congratulate your troops. The United States profoundly appreciates the heroism, sacrifice, and selfless service of the brave men and women of Romania’s armed forces. Nearly 25,000 Romanian troops and over 250 gendarmes have nobly served in Afghanistan. The costs have been high, with 23 Romanian soldiers paying the ultimate price and 129 wounded in action. America recognizes and honors their sacrifice and that of their families through a decade of war.

 

I have been fortunate to serve two rewarding tours in Romania getting to know this beautiful country and its people. I am encouraged by what I have seen and learned. While challenges remain to be overcome, Romania should be proud of what it has accomplished in the 25 years since the Revolution.

I am sad to leave in a matter of days, but my successor is already here. Dean Thompson is an experienced and highly decorated senior diplomat. I leave you in very good hands. I know he will have as rewarding an assignment here as I have.

 

Romania has incredible physical beauty of course. But again, what makes a country truly beautiful is its people and its values. I have been privileged to work with many extraordinary Romanians, among them dedicated soldiers and talented public servants, fearless police, prosecutors and judges, courageous journalists, and untiring social activists fighting for justice, seeking the truth, and promoting positive change. Together with Romania’s exceptionally talented youth, they are building a vibrant society and a prosperous democracy.

 

To conclude, Romania’s future is full of promise. Its democratic path, its transatlantic partnership with the United States, and its place in Europe are the perfect platform for the patriotism, hard work, and determination of its people. Your strength, stability and prosperity will continue to be a model for countries in this region.

 

Thank you and Happy Independence Day! It is now my distinct pleasure to welcome to the podium, the Prime Minister of Romania, Victor Ponta.

 

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