Remarks by Ambassador Henry Wooster at U.S. Independence Celebration Event on June 30, 2021- as prepared for delivery.

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 security cooperation.  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 experiencing 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. We 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.  To combat racial segregation, we integrated our schools across racial lines.  In fact, Vice President Kamala Harris was among those courageous students.

These historical vignettes are American democracy.  Today, the U.S. Congress is the most racially and ethnically diverse legislative body in America’s 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 yet to end 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 in America 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.

Jordan is a key security partner and ally of the United States.  Although there are many examples of security cooperation to choose from, allow me to mention just one:  each year, our Department of Defense and the Jordanian Armed Forces work together to host “Eager Lion,” the largest and most-complex military exercise in the region.  This exercise provides the JAF an opportunity to demonstrate its advanced capabilities to our entire coalition and other security partners.  Through regional exercises such as this, joint trainings, military financing, and other means, the United States aims to strengthen Jordan’s ability to keep its people safe and secure.

We, in turn, are grateful for the support and cooperation we receive from Jordan’s security services.  The Public Security Directorate, for example, works tirelessly to keep our personnel safe.  From the Gendarmerie to Customs, to every branch and department of Jordan’s National Security Apparatus, you and your colleagues display professionalism and commitment to U.S. – Jordan cooperation, and for this, we thank you.  Finally, a point that can never be over-emphasized, we commend Jordan’s important leadership role in promoting peace and stability in the region.

I look forward to conversations this evening on how the United States can continue to partner with Jordan on security issues.

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.

As President Biden has noted, the United States has 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 U.S. 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.

One significant milestone in this process relates to America’s newest national holiday.   June 19, or “Juneteenth,” commemorated the emancipation of African Americans from slavery, unofficially, for more than a century.  As you may have seen, President Biden just made Juneteenth a federal holiday.  So last week, we closed the embassy on Sunday to celebrate Juneteenth and reflect on the work that lies ahead in forming a more perfect union.

On behalf of the United States, the U.S. Embassy, 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.