Remarks at the Independence Day Celebration

– as prepared –

Good afternoon and welcome, everyone.  It is a tremendous honor for me to host you in this celebration of America’s 240th anniversary of our independence.  Welcome, Minister Pinter, President Darak, and Prosecutor Polt, Justice Stumpf.  Thank you State Secretary Vargha for coming and I look forward to your remarks.  Welcome, distinguished guests.  Welcome, friends.  Thank you very much for coming today.  As the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, I bring you greetings from President Obama, who sends his best wishes to you all.

Before we get started, I would like to ask that we all observe a moment of silence for the many victims who were injured and killed earlier this week in a terrorist attack in Istanbul.

These awful attacks in Istanbul have left me somber.  In the United States we still mourn the 49 people who lost their lives in an act of indescribable violence in Orlando last month, and grieve with their families and loved ones.  In the face of violence and other challenges that impact our societies, it is important to remember the common values that set us apart and make us free.  In these times, and particularly on this day, we must reaffirm our commitment to the democratic norms and ideals that gave rise to the United States of America, and to Hungary’s freedom from tyranny.  It is important too that we redouble our efforts to strengthen the democratic institutions that ensure our collective peace and security.

There is no better occasion for such an exercise than a celebration of July 4th.  On this day, we celebrate the very essence of America and the spirit that has defined us as a people and as a nation for more than two centuries.

The American Declaration of Independence, which was adopted on July 4, 1776, contains a few simple, extraordinary ideas.  It says we are equal, and that we are free.  It says we can pursue our full measure of happiness and make of our lives what we will.  We still celebrate these principles that are timeless—tenets that gave rise to what President Abraham Lincoln called a “new birth of freedom” in America: civil rights and voting rights, workers’ rights and women’s rights.  Rights that are not just for Americans, but that are now embraced across the world.

I am still amazed by the small band of patriots who stood up and risked everything for these principles.  Just as I am amazed by the great Hungarian patriot Mihaly Kovats who served and died in the American Revolution, telling his American friends in 1774: “I have no wish greater than to… be where I am needed most, to serve and die….”  Kovats, in his service and dedication to freedom, was a true citizen of his country and of America.

President John F. Kennedy once said the idea of democracy had shaken the globe–that it was the most powerful force anywhere in the world.  I would like us to celebrate together, today, not only the bold events in America 240 years ago, but also, to celebrate the relationship and values the United States and Hungary share.

The connections and bonds between our two countries, which date back to the American Revolution, are alive and well today in this community.  The partnership we share crosses the Atlantic, enriching our economies and our cultures, and sustaining our collective security.  Hungarians and Americans will join NATO colleagues at the summit in Warsaw next week.  Hungarian officials will travel to Washington later this month to participate in a Counter-ISIL Ministerial.

We both understand that our democracies are not about what can be done for us, but about what can be done by us, together.

Before I close, I would like to individually recognize all of the businesses that graciously offered to contribute to this event.  Please bear with me, this year we have almost 50 sponsors, including:  3M Hungaria; AbbVie; Alcoa; Amgen; AmRest Kávézó (Starbucks); AVIS Hungary; Becton Dickens Medical; Cisco Systems Hungary; Citibank; ClearWater; Coca-Cola Hungary; CooperVision; Deutsche Lufthansa; AG-United; Dow Hungary; Ernst & Young; ExxonMobil Hungary; FireEye;  Ford;  Fusion (Burger King);  GE Water and Process Technologies Hungary; Great Lakes Hungary; GSI Hungary;  Guardian Industries; Harman Infotainment Division; Hungrana; Janssen-Cilag; McDonald’s; Metlife Hungary; Morgan Stanley; MSD Pharma Hungary; MTD Hungaria; National Instruments; NCR Hungary; NetIQ Novell SUSE Magyarországi Képviselet; Nu Skin Eastern Europe; Oil  & Gas Development;  Oracle; Otokoc – Budget Rent-a-Car Hungary; Pfizer; POPZ Europe; Pridgeon & Clay; Ritz/Carlton; Remy Automotive Hungary; Sanmina-SCI ; UTC Overseas; Veritas; and Zoltek Corporation.

Without your support we would not be able to host such a wonderful event.  Thank you.

Thank you all for coming.

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