June 28, 2023
As prepared for delivery
” Tonight is not only about celebrating our country’s independence. It is about those ideas we advanced in its declaration: freedom, equality, and democracy. Those founding principles still guide us today, and they are principles we share with the United Kingdom and its people. ”
Ambassador Jane Hartley: Ladies and gentlemen, honored guests, friends: what a pleasure it is to welcome you to the celebration of our Independence Day. Now, if only I could remember who we declared our independence from…
As you may know, I have been the Ambassador to the United Kingdom for just over a year now. And it’s certainly been an interesting year. I’ve already met two monarchs and three prime ministers.
My family likes to remind me that I don’t like “boring.” But maybe it could be just a little more boring. I’m so glad to have my family here tonight: my husband Ralph, my son Jamie and my daughter-in-law Francesca, my brother Jim and sister-in-law Joan, and Francesca’s parents and aunt. The only one missing is my daughter, Kate, who is back in New York.
This has been an interesting year full of many changes. But, I have noticed that one thing never changes: the incredible strength of America’s special relationship with the United Kingdom. It’s true, we diplomats might – occasionally – over-use the term “Special Relationship,” but it really is the most remarkable partnership of any two countries anywhere in the world.
The United Kingdom has been and remains our most important ally.
Of course, as Independence Day reminds us, our two countries got off to a bit of a rough start. But it’s safe to say we’ve all gotten over it. We are bound together by our shared history, our shared culture, but most of all by our shared values. Together, we strive to protect liberty, and opportunity, the rule of law, and the dignity of all people, in all corners of the world.
Tonight is not only about celebrating our country’s independence. It is about those ideas we advanced in its declaration: freedom, equality, and democracy. Those founding principles still guide us today, and they are principles we share with the United Kingdom and its people.
And when we think about those values, we think about the places where people are still fighting for the freedoms we hold dear. Right now, the BRAVE people of Ukraine are fighting for their freedom. For their democracy. And while we can never match their sacrifice, we can, and we will, do everything we can to support them.
That’s why Ukrainian soldiers drive British tanks and pilot American aircraft, and why British and allied officers will train more than 20,000 Ukrainian soldiers this year. I recently went down to Lydd to visit some of those Ukrainian soldiers. Many were young men and women: as young as 18, but a few in their late 50s as well, including a 71-year-old volunteer. That is the kind of passion they feel for their country. That is the depth of their bravery.
I want to thank our friends in the United Kingdom for what they are doing for these soldiers. And I promise: the U.S.A. will stand with you, for as long as it takes. And we pledge, alongside you, to help Ukraine rebuild its country after the war is over.
Last week I went to the Ukraine Recovery Conference, where a very impressive group of nations promised to help Ukraine recover, led once again by the United States and the United Kingdom. I’d like to share something I heard at the conference about a young girl living in Kharkiv.
This young girl wrote a note that said her only wish was: “to go back to school, play volleyball with my friends, and live a normal life.” She said she hoped she would never have to count to 45 again, because that’s how long it takes for a missile to reach her city after the sirens go off. 45 seconds: That’s how long she would have to bring her younger siblings and grandmother to safety.
My friends, let us never forget that young girl and what is truly at stake in this war. And let us all work for the day when our friends in Ukraine can celebrate a day just like this, their very own celebration of freedom, where a young girl can go back to school, play volleyball with her friends, and spend a day without having to count to 45.
To all our guests: your presence demonstrates the powerful connection and friendship between our two countries.
To our government partners, and His Majesty the King, thank you for all that you do supporting democracy in the world, and for making the planet a cleaner, safer place.
To our friends in civil society, media, the arts, and the private sector: Thank you, keep using your voices, your partnership is the foundation of the closest alliance the world has ever known.
And finally, thank you to our men and women in uniform who protect our freedoms around the world, especially our Marines on duty tonight. I know you have to stand tonight for as long as I’m speaking, so I better wrap up soon.
We have much to be grateful for, and many things to celebrate. So I invite you tonight to please have fun. Take your picture in front of the New York City taxi. Have a hot dog. Have a burger. Have as many as you want. Have a cocktail – maybe not as many as you want!
We also have some amazing music for you tonight. And I cannot keep the surprise any longer, the amazing artist, one-of-a-kind talent Ellie Goulding is here with us tonight!
But the night is young. Have a wonderful time. Your friendship means the world to us.
And now, let’s raise our glasses to America’s birthday, and to the Special Relationship that shines a light for freedom and democracy all around the world. Cheers!