Fourth of July Celebration

Good evening.

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;
Commanding Officer of the USS Fort McHenry and the Commander of the embarked Marines; and
Our Portuguese and American Friends, who over the past year, have welcomed Kim and me not only into this country, but into your hearts.

Boa noite.

Queria dar as boas vindas a todos/ para a celebração do nosso dia nacional – Quatro de Julho.

É um dia especial para os americanos, porque é um dia para nos lembrarmos quem somos como povo e o que defendemos como nação.E agora, vou falar em Inglês.

We welcome you to the U.S. Embassy’s celebration of America’s National Day – July 4th. This is a very special day for Americans and some of you may wonder why. The reason is on this day, Americans remember who we are as a people, and what we stand for as a nation. It is also a day to honor those who have made the sacrifices to get us where we are today.

On July 4, 1776, a small band of patriots engaged in an improbable experiment in democracy. At that time in human history, kings and queens, princes and emperors were the rulers of nations and they were the ones who made decisions for their people. But these patriots thought there was a better way. They declared that we in America were a people created equal; free to think and worship as we pleased; and that our destiny would not be determined for us, but by us. Our founders so strongly believed in these bold ideals they pledged “their lives, their fortunes and their honor” to defend them. Our Declaration of Independence was not a document of rhetoric but of decision.

Thus began our revolution and our commitment to the founding truths that have guided us ever since. And so too, the seeds were sown for the first wave of democracy in the world.

Almost two hundred years later – in 1974 – another nation made a similar commitment to freedom through revolution. In an era marked by clusters of competing ideologies, power players and strongmen, Portugal’s captains of April – junior military officers – started a coup determined to throw off the yoke of a dictatorship that had held the Portuguese people in its grip for almost 50 years.

The extraordinary actions started by this small band of Portuguese military patriots soon galvanized overwhelming popular support, and culminated in a nearly bloodless revolution, known for the carnations given to the soldiers by flower vendors to put in the barrels of their guns.

The people of Portugal established a democratic constitution, ended colonialism, instituted civil liberties, like freedom of the press and speech, and recognized a woman’s right to vote and to travel without the permission of her husband, all of which had been banned for decades by the government. Portugal’s revolution sparked a third wave of democracy in the world.

The United States and Portugal will forever be bound together by that common history and our mutual imprint on democratic movements around the world.

On July 4th, we celebrate America as a land of liberty and opportunity. We reaffirm our belief that the greatness of a country is not measured by its size or wealth, but instead by the values and ideals for which it stands, and for which its citizens are willing to fight. And so, we hold ourselves out to the world as defenders of freedom, and as a beacon of hope for people everywhere who seek liberty, opportunity, and freedom for themselves.

Preserving these ideals in our country and for others of the world comes with a cost. Too often we have asked our citizens to make the ultimate sacrifice in the name of that worthy cause.

So this evening we pause to honor not only American men and women in uniform, but all men in woman in uniform and their families who sacrifice for the freedoms we so cherish. And this includes the first responders from the police and fire here who also put their lives on the line to keep us safe. The colors of the uniforms may be different, but we stand united in the cause of freedom the world over. The power of liberty is strong but not unchallenged. There are those who threaten our fundamental values. Just in the last week, we have seen their hand at work in France, Tunisia, and Kuwait, but also in Charleston, South Carolina.

Their ideologies are bankrupt and their hearts are filled only with hate, intolerance and repression. They are not new in history, but history also teaches that they cannot win. They may have their inglorious moments but ultimately humanity rejects all they represent. And make no mistake, their symbols will come down, whether by political agreement, or military action.

Thomas Jefferson reminded us that the ground of liberty is to be gained in inches. That we must be contented to secure what we can get from time to time and press forward for what is yet to get.

When, the cause is liberty and equal rights, let us not be content to counsel patience. Yet, let us not fail to celebrate progress. Last week we celebrated just such progress when our United States Supreme Court issued a momentous equal rights decision on marriage equality. That decision came 5 years to the month after Portugal became one of the first countries in the world to lead on this issue.

Neither we, nor any other country, has it exactly right. Freedom and Democracy are always a work-in-process, as our founders also wisely knew. Our Constitution compels us to strive for a “more perfect union”.

The road to that lofty goal continues in the United States, here in Europe, and among freedom-loving people around the world – driven by people possessed with a steely resolve, and undaunted by the sometimes slow pace of progress.

That was the promise of America two and a half centuries ago and that remains our shared commitment today.

Thank you. Muito Obrigado.

God Bless the United States of America, and God Bless Portugal.


The connection between the United States and Portugal is not only deep but it is longstanding. Portugal became only the second country to recognize us after our revolution.

But the connection goes back even further – to the very birth of our nation. On July 4th, 1776, the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, John Hancock, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson – all great men – chose to toast their achievement with Madeira wine.

So with the Madeira wine you now hold in your hand, please join Kim and me in doing what they did 239 years ago: