Ambassador Robert A. Riley U.S. Independence Day Remarks

Before I begin my remarks, I would like to thank publicly my wonderful US Embassy team for putting this event together. They brought it together with verve and imagination. Isn’t it great? Please give them a hand.

Good evening and a hearty welcome to our Fourth of July celebration. As you know, the Fourth of July is a time when Americans celebrate the birth of our nation. Family and friends in the United States travel from near and far to commemorate the Fourth together, with food, fireworks, and fealty. The Declaration of Independence, written by the great statesman, wide-ranging intellectual, polymath, and our third President, Thomas Jefferson, expressed eloquently our forefathers’ beliefs that remain the principles of our democratic experiment that, quote, all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable 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, unquote. Those words laid the foundation for the American Revolutionary War, for the U.S. Constitution, and for the system of governance that followed.

Contrary to popular belief, however, July 4 was not the date that our Continental Congress actually declared our independence from Great Britain – that day was July 2. Rather, July 4 was the day that the Continental Congress adopted the document we now call the Declaration of Independence, written by the aforementioned Thomas Jefferson, to justify its actions. In effect, our Continental Congress required the brilliance of Thomas Jefferson to stamp its action as real, because Jefferson was able to clearly articulate in words the intrinsic sentiments felt so deeply by our founding fathers.

We are proud that we share these powerful democratic values with the Federated States of Micronesia. Our common bonds derive from this common political heritage. There are many other parallels and commonalities as well – our country is made up of 50 individual, unique states, that stand alone and are independent, but that simultaneously work together for the common good; the FSM encompasses 4 individual and unique states, that seek cohesion as a nation. We partner in defense, as the United States is committed to defending the FSM as it would its own shores, and FSM citizens enlist in the US military in greater numbers per capita than any of the U.S. 50 states. We collaborate to advance development within the FSM, to ensure that it is fully ready to meet the challenges of 2023 and beyond. We, Micronesians and Americans alike, freely move between our two countries as we join forces together, in work, school, and play.

The theme of this year’s Fourth of July is EHUPENE – unity. The use of this term during our event has numerous connotations, as you can see from this year’s Fourth of July logo (which you can see on the t-shirts of our Embassy staff) – unity of the United States; unity of the Federated States of Micronesia; unity of our two countries in a very close alliance. Our states squabble; your states squabble; our two countries squabble; but ultimately, we come together in unity, as in unity is strength, and in unity we advance. Despite the differences among our U.S. states, the bonds are stronger than the disparities; despite the differences in your states, the bonds are stronger than the disparities; despite the differences between our two countries, the bonds are stronger than the disparities. Hence, we wish this day to celebrate EHUPENE – unity.

As we look forward to the end of direct financial assistance in 2023, the challenges are great, but the opportunities are greater. To take advantage of these opportunities, we must work together. We in the United States must more clearly define, refine, and refocus our very important role in the FSM so that we can be more effective as we prepare for the new post 2023 era; the four states and national government of the FSM must define, refine, and refocus common goals for economic sustainability, especially in the private sector, as you seek to establish a balanced economy; and jointly, we must define, refine, and refocus our strategic plans, and extend our reach to allies, NGOs, and multilaterals as we all work together for a new vision and a new understanding for a new era. We should not think of the forthcoming era as scary; these are exciting times. These are times when creativity, innovation, and invention should come to the fore; when we can nurture the shoots, the new growth, of new ideas, and watch them sprout. We must be bold and unafraid. We must think big and we must think small, we must seize the opportunity whenever and wherever it strikes.

We must act as our American forefathers acted – with bracing courage, foresight, and daring; throwing off the chains of old ways of thinking and embracing the new. And let us do this together, with singleness of purpose, and bring along with us on this journey all of those who share our democratic values, and the wish for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Just as Thomas Jefferson articulated the feelings of his generation, and lit the fires of democracy, we must begin the great work of illuminating the pathway ahead to 2023 and beyond.

241 years ago, 13 colonies came together to declare their independence, and eventually became the United States of America. The islands of the FSM are stronger together; in unity of purpose, they provide security and opportunity for future generations.  We will work together to protect that future by tackling the challenges that we face in fostering sustainable economic development, combatting climate change, and enhancing maritime security, and the many other tests that will come our way.

One clear symbol of our unity, and of the FSM’s bright future, is Ryback Malakai, a young man who just graduated from Xavier High School and is now attending the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. He joins Youky Susaia Jr., also at the Coast Guard Academy, and Hitoshi Phillip Oue, attending the U.S. Naval Academy. They will return to the FSM following graduation to use their education to further the future development of the FSM. They, like many other FSM citizens who join the U.S. military, demonstrate the close and mutually beneficial relationship between our nations. They, like the many other FSM citizens who are educated in the U.S. and return to a life of service in the FSM to serve their country, will help to ensure a bright future for the FSM.

Likewise, we honor the FSM veterans who have served our nation and the FSM in the US military, some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice. Veterans have served in our military with valor and dedication, and we are deeply grateful for their commitment. And so many have returned to the FSM and contributed mightily to their country.

We now pause this Fourth of July to pay tribute to our service men and women, the citizens of our two nations, who work to protect us – and the freedoms we hold so dear.   We are grateful for their courage, strength and service to our two nations.

And we salute our flag, the symbol and physical expression of what the men and women of our two nations have fought and for which they continue to fight– life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Happy 4th of July – and EHUPENE!

Thank you.