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. We invited each of you here tonight because we value your role in empowering Jordanian youth. More about that in a moment.
This year, America turns 245. Throughout our history, empowered by a constitution which has inspired many democracies, and enabled by our democratic institutions and processes, Americans have progressed towards the illusive but inspiring charge of our constitution: “To form a more perfect union.” Although we are the world’s oldest democracy, we are always undergoing growing pains. Indeed, you might say America’s story is one of resilience. In fewer than 100 years from our founding, we fought a civil war to, among other things, abolish slavery. The war cost an estimated quarter of a million soldiers’ lives—plus, an undetermined number of civilians. We have amended our constitution many times, for example, to expand the right to vote, to racial minorities and to women. After failing to equally empower all our citizens, we underwent the civil rights movement, which led to landmark legislation in the civil rights and voting rights acts.
In each of these instances, young people were on the frontlines. Thomas Jefferson was 33 when he authored the declaration of independence. Alexander Hamilton was 22 when he became senior aide to General George Washington, helping form and run the new Continental Army. Martin Luther King, Jr. was 26 when he led the Montgomery bus boycott. Susan B. Anthony, who became a prominent figure in women’s suffrage, began collecting anti-slavery petitions at 17. To combat racial segregation, we brought children together in our schools.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who was six at the time, was among those courageous students.
These historical vignettes are American democracy. Democracy empowers people, young and old, to be the change they seek. Today, the U.S. Congress is the most racially and ethnically diverse legislative body in history, with nearly one in every four members belonging to a minority. Our political leadership is now more representative of our nation’s citizens. Of course, challenges remain. We have not ended systemic racism. One need only look to the killings of people of color; plus incidents of Islamophobia, anti-Asian hate, and anti-Semitism. Nonetheless, America is committed to confronting racism, not only because of our legacy of slavery, but also, because America is a nation of immigrants.
I 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 to learn English. Many of my U.S. colleagues in this embassy, and in others in which I have served, are immigrants, and the children of immigrants. They reflect a variety of backgrounds. For example, within this embassy, each Ramadan, our American Muslim colleagues fast alongside many of you.
Throughout our history, our constitutional democracy has promoted diversity and helped us overcome challenges when this value was imperiled. 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 such problems 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. We have rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement; and we have re-engaged the UN Human Rights Council.
As the president has said, our greatest assets are our allies and our alliances. Nowhere is that truer than in Jordan, where our two countries are committed to achieving goals of mutual importance. Much has changed since my previous tour in Jordan only a few years ago. Life is more challenging—not just here, but worldwide. Yet, the resolve and resilience of the Jordanian people remains.
Among the most important goals of U.S. Jordan policy is promoting economic opportunities. Jordan’s population is young, with seven out of every 10 Jordanians under age 35. Meanwhile, the World Bank recently reported 50% of Jordanian youth are unemployed. We aim to help change that, and secure Jordan’s future, by empowering youth through educational, cultural, and economic development programs. I look forward to conversations this evening on how the United States can support Jordan’s young people.
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 are daunting—yet we are not daunted. Looking back this past year has proven that when people pursue shared goals, they are stronger.
That said, as President Biden has noted, we have always been a forward-looking nation, one still striving toward a more perfect union. Five years from now, July 4, 2026, will be the 250th anniversary of the United States’ independence. Today we begin that celebration with our partners at the America 250 foundation and invite all Americans, as well as our friends abroad, to help honor our past and shape our future.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.