Chargé d’Affaires Remarks on the 241st July 4th Celebration

Good evening, dear Colleagues from the United States Embassy,
Members of the Portuguese Government;
Members of the Portuguese Armed Forces;
Deputies of the National Assembly;
Fellow Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic Community;
Members of Strike Force NATO and the U.S. Military;
Portuguese and American friends.

I would like to express my profound appreciation for your attendance tonight.

I would also like to acknowledge all our sponsors, whose generosity has helped to make this event possible, as well as our band D-Gang, who will soon get this party rocking better than any speech could!  And even though I’m carrying a big belly, I expect you all to join me on the dance floor!

Boas vindas a todos.

Welcome to the U.S. Embassy’s celebration of America’s National Day – July 4th –taking place a few days earlier than usual to take advantage of this beautiful Friday evening in Portugal.

Independence Day is when we Americans honor our beginnings.  When we remember the brave acts and the patriots who founded our nation, celebrate the resulting freedom we enjoy, and honor those who continue to defend that freedom.

July 4 is the day our Declaration of Independence was finalized.  That declaration, whose sentiments embody what it is to be American, contains one of the most famous sentences in our history – “that all men are created equal, with certain unalienable Rights, among them Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  Our history the past 241 years has been marked by efforts to bring our reality closer to those ideals.  It hasn’t been easy, and I’m sure the road ahead will continue to hold potholes and detours.  But we will go forward — resolute and energized.

Independence Day is particularly touching to me because it captures what America symbolizes for me and my family – the land that gave us freedom, opportunity, and liberty.  My first July 4th celebration was when I was 4 years old, in the plains of the state of North Dakota.  I had arrived in America as a refugee from Kurdistan, Iraq, with little more than hopes and dreams.  I barely spoke English, had never seen a hamburger or hotdog before, but didn’t need a textbook to explain to me the meaning of the word “freedom”.  I remember celebrating with a county fair, much like you see here today at the Embassy, featuring country music, incredible food and drink, and amazing fireworks.  We are proud to bring this slice of Americana to Portugal and share with you what is best about us.

July 4th is also a chance for us to celebrate the international friendships and partnerships that were created with our nation’s founding.

Portugal is one of America’s oldest allies, the second nation to recognize the fledgling republic.  Looking back over more than two centuries of our shared past, we have many reasons to celebrate the partnership between our two nations.

Our friendship extends beyond diplomatic relations and is truly a special bond between our governments and people.  And as good friends, we have had a wonderful time these past 12 months celebrating with you as Portugal has gone from success to success.  Truly, this has been a remarkable year for Portugal.  Since our last 4th of July celebration your National Football Team has won the Euro Cup, your statesman, António Guterres, has risen to lead the our global community as the Secretary General of the United Nations, you have hosted Pope Francis as he marked 100 years since three Portuguese children brought a message of peace to the world and you will be hosting EuroVision 2018 because Portugal won the hearts of the globe.

We at the Embassy have been with you on this journey, rooting for you and celebrating your victories.  For us, as friends of Portugal, sharing in this remarkable year has been a pleasure and an honor.

Now, join me for a toast: please, choose a drink – we have a lot of options.

We have here Coca-Cola, who sold its first bottle of Coca-Cola in Lisbon on the 4th of July in 1977, just 40 years ago.

We also have Bulldog gin, the world’s fastest growing premium gin brand.

Continuing this spirit of the best of Portugal and America coming together, we have Harpoon Brewery, who worked with Portugal’s Mean Sardine Beer to create “Collaboration Brew,” which they just officially launched here in Lisbon.

So whether you have a Coke, gin, a Collaboration Brew, or a glass of Portuguese wine in your hand, please join me in raising a glass to salute freedom and friendship.   Long live the United States of America!  Long live Portugal!  And enjoy this wonderful night!