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. America’s story is one of resilience. Although we are the world’s oldest democracy, we are nevertheless a relatively young nation, as is sometimes made clear by our growing pains. From the beginning, we formulated a constitution that has inspired other democracies. This does not mean we were perfect. Throughout our history – empowered by our constitution and enabled by our democratic institutions and processes – the American people have continued to make 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. 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. 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. This resilience is reflected in the faces of the more than 160 African Americans who have served in the U.S. Congress – the first of whom were elected in 1870, shortly after our civil war and the abolition of slavery. This resilience of American democracy eventually led to the election of the first African American president of the United States, Barack Obama. Today, the 117th 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 remain. We have not yet ended systemic racism. One need only look to the killings of George Floyd and others of color; and in rising incidents of anti-Asian hate, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia.
America is committed to confronting racism. Not just 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 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 too insulated from the fasting outside our walls, because our U.S. Muslim colleagues are also fasting.
Our constitutional democracy has helped us overcome challenges throughout our history. 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. 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 are promoting economic growth. Just last year, we celebrated 20 years of the U.S. –Jordan Free Trade Agreement, which has made Jordan’s economy stronger while significantly increasing trade between our two nations. Indeed, 20% of Jordan’s exports now go to the United States. These milestones illustrate what our partnership has achieved and what it can continue to achieve. 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.
2021 marks 100 years since the founding of the Emirate of Transjordan. So just as we celebrate America today, allow me to congratulate you on your centenary. We look forward to building on our friendship with the Jordanian 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 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.