Thank you. On behalf of my embassy colleagues and the American people, my wife Laura and I welcome you to the Independence Day celebration of the United States of America. I am grateful for the volunteers who made tonight’s event possible, most of whom you will not see because we are keeping this gathering small to respect Jordan’s public health guidelines.
This year, America turns 245. Although we are the world’s oldest democracy, we are nevertheless a relatively young nation, as is sometimes made clear by our growing pains. Indeed, you might say America’s story is one of resilience. Throughout our history—empowered by our constitution, which has inspired many other democracies, and enabled by our democratic institutions and processes—the American people have continued to progress towards the illusive but inspiring charge of our constitution: “to form a more perfect union.”
In fewer than 100 years from our founding, we fought a civil war to, among other things, abolish slavery. We amended our constitution many times thereafter, to expand the right to vote, to racial minorities and to women. And it was women who took their destiny into their own hands and led a popular movement, called suffrage, to win their right to vote 101 years ago. Similarly, it was African Americans who led the Civil Rights Movement, which led to landmark legislation in the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts.
I say this to emphasize how our democracy empowers the people to be the change they seek to create in society. To combat racial segregation, we brought students together in our schools across racial lines. Vice President Kamala Harris was among those pioneering—and courageous—students who helped integrate America’s schools. These historical vignettes are American democracy. Fast forward to today, and the current U.S. Congress is the most racially and ethnically diverse Congress in history, with nearly one in every four members belonging to a minority. In short, our political leadership is now more representative of our nation’s citizens.
Challenges certainly remain. For one, we have not yet ended systemic racism. One need only look to the tragic killings of George Floyd and others of color; and in rising incidents of Islamophobia, anti-Asian hate, and anti-Semitism.
America is committed to confronting racism, not only because of our legacy of slavery, but also because America is a proud nation of immigrants. America’s record since our founding reflects the enormous contributions and strength diversity has afforded us. I, for example, am the son of a naturalized American mother. My first language was not English—a fact few recognize, given my Anglo-Saxon name. The first language of my wife Laura’s grandparents, on both sides, was German. One of her grandparents joined the U.S. Army just so he could learn English. Many of my colleagues in this embassy, and in others in which I have served, are themselves immigrants, and the children of immigrants. Even within the walls of this embassy, each Ramadan, we are not to insulated from the fasting outside our walls, because our American Muslim colleagues are also fasting.
Throughout our history, our constitutional democracy has helped us overcome challenges. Indeed, as President Biden has said, we firmly believe democracy can still deliver for the American people, and that it is essential to meeting the challenges of our time.
Many challenges we face are global, and the record shows the best path to resolving them is when nations work together. For this reason, under President Biden’s direction, the United States has been restoring alliances and recommitting to multilateral institutions. We rejoined the World Health Organization and resumed support of UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency, which supports Palestinian refugees across the region. We have rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement; and we have re-engaged the UN Human Rights Council.
Most importantly, as the president has said, our greatest assets are our allies and our alliances. Nowhere is that more true than in Jordan, where our two countries are committed to achieving goals of mutual importance. Much has changed since my previous tour in Jordan just a few years ago. Life is more challenging now–not just here, but worldwide. Still, the resolve and resilience of the Jordanian people remains; Jordanians are determined to emerge from this pandemic stronger than they were when it began. As you do so, America will continue to stand by you.
Among the most important goals of U.S. Jordan policy is promoting economic growth for women and youth. Jordan’s women are educated, hard-working, and motivated to help their country. Yet, the gender gap in Jordan’s private sector is the widest of any country not at war. Thus, it is our priority to empower women and ensure they get the opportunities they deserve, which is good for women, and good for Jordan. Indeed, we invited each of you here tonight, in part, due to how much we value your role as women leaders in business. So I look forward to fruitful conversations this evening on how the United States can further help empower women and promote inclusive economic growth in Jordan.
When I conclude my time as Ambassador to Jordan, I want to say our bilateral relationship is stronger; that the United States contributed to Jordan’s economic growth; and that the strong U.S.-Jordanian relationship has grown stronger still.
245 years ago, America’s founding fathers declared the independence of the United States of America, knowing they would face challenges in the journey ahead. Today, too, the challenges we face are daunting—yet we are not daunted. This last year has shown that when people pursue shared goals, they are stronger. Together, we will continue to build partnerships and alliances to meet these challenges.
On behalf of the United States, the U.S. Embassy, my wife Laura and our family, let me welcome you once again to this celebration of America’s independence. God bless Jordan and God bless the United States of America.