Good evening! Thank you for making time to celebrate with us 247 years of American independence.
Two and a half centuries ago, 56 people chose courage – against uncertain outcomes – by signing the Declaration of Independence. Our Founding Fathers were willing to pay the cost with their lives, believing it was the right thing to do, and betting, that if they were successful, future generations of Americans would benefit. Their courage and sacrifice changed how the United States governs and how Americans live.
Those leaders imagined a world beyond their experience – where premiums would be placed on liberty and equality. In doing so, they altered the course of history.
As our Founding Fathers declared America’s independence, the United States embarked on an audacious quest to form “a more perfect union,” a project that remains ongoing, even as I speak. “Audacious” because they had to imagine this more perfect union they sought—there was no exemplar.
Since 1776, America has forged its closest relations with nations which share the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of justice. Jordan and the United States share the goals of social stability, economic growth, and a positive future for our citizens. Both of us recognize these pursuits demand moral courage from our public servants, whether they wear suits or uniforms, to create and sustain the conditions that will enable our children, then their children, to succeed.
Advancing this vision is what the U.S. Embassy team does every day. Entrusted by the American government and the American people, with public funds, this is our duty.
Throughout my tenure as Ambassador, the U.S. policy priority for Jordan has been to strengthen its economic growth. The seven-year, over $10 billion Memorandum of Understanding the United States and Jordan signed last year – the longest and largest such agreement between our two countries – supports our strategic partnership by enabling inclusive economic and public sector growth.
Growth is risky, and it may require sacrifice. Less appreciated is how growth benefits from imagination.
Our Founders—elites, really… a collection of culturally and personally affluent gentlemen—knew the creation of a new order would mean sacrifice, and quite possibly, death. Thus, it is remarkable that the decision to jettison status quo was made by those who benefitted the most from status quo; or put another way, by those who had the most to lose. Those familiar with U.S. history know the costs were indeed enormous. That’s the American story.
Tonight, we celebrate one of America’s most cherished pastimes: storytelling through film. Remembering America’s foundational story is inspiring to Americans, and telling new stories has the power to enact positive change in our communities. Narratives fire the imagination.
Film has a special place in the American-Jordanian relationship. Jordan’s film industry allows us to collaborate and, in the process, to foster economic growth.
For American filmmakers, Jordan has long been a set location of choice. In fact, five of the United States’ top 200 highest grossing films were made here.
Can you guess them? [PAUSE]
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Star Wars: Episode IX- The Rise of Skywalker
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
- Aladdin, and can you name the last one? [PAUSE]
- The Martian
While not in the top 200, Wadi Rum was also the perfect location for Dune: Part One.
Through the Embassy’s partnerships with American and Jordanian institutions, we are funding master classes with experts from Hollywood and elsewhere to train Jordan’s writers, filmmakers, and cinematographers. Indeed, some of our guests this evening are alumni of our film diplomacy programs.
The Royal Film Commission regularly hosts American studio representatives so they can learn what everyone here tonight already knows: that Jordan, with its natural, archaeological, and architectural beauty, is a magnificent backdrop for capturing imaginations on screen.
Our work together in the film industry is just one example of the U.S-Jordanian bilateral relationship. We also partner with Jordan to boost tourism, expand trade, and tackle water supply, climate change, and regional security.
In the same way we are united by film, the United States and Jordan will continue to be united in seeking solutions for these and other challenges ahead.
My Jordanian colleagues and friends, thank you for your hospitality and for our many joint accomplishments.
This is my last Independence Day as U.S. Ambassador to Jordan, and with my final official words for tonight, I’d like to say – to everyone who made tonight possible – SHUKRAN KATEER and YATEEKOM – EL AAFIYAH.