Independence Day 2017 – CG Welcome Remarks

  • Thank you, Steve.  Distinguished representatives of the Government, the Provincial Council, the judiciary, the diplomatic corps, and civil society; colleagues; and friends all – thank you for joining us at this celebration of the 241st anniversary of America’s independence.  
  • 241 years ago in Philadelphia, 56 patriots put their signatures to our founding document, the Declaration of Independence.  Thus began what was considered by many to be an experiment in government.
  • The odds were against them.  Though rich in natural resources, the new democracy was not unified.  The 13 colonies represented in the Declaration were different from each other.  Many colonists had starkly conflicting interests.  
  • Though united against a common foe, signatories had radically different views about this new concept of “self-government” — in particular, about how much power would rest with the central government, how much would rest with the individual states, and how much would rest with the individual citizen.  
  • Through perseverance, heated debate, and compromise, the different parties came together on a Declaration of Independence, and seven years later, on a Constitution that still guides us today.  Despite their differences, they realized they had more to gain together than apart.
  • 241 years later, our experiment in government continues.  It hasn’t been easy.  And we still debate difficult questions, including those about the appropriate authority of the central government, the states, and the individual citizen.  
  • I hope there is inspiration today to be drawn from that experience.  
  • Few countries have suffered as much and faced challenges as daunting as Iraq has in recent decades.  In my year here, though, I’ve been struck by how remarkably resilient Iraqis have proven themselves.  
  • Despite the daunting challenges that remain, your perseverance, your generous spirit, and your steadfast commitment to your country give me optimism for the future.  
  • This is reinforced by Iraq’s stirring victory in Mosul, for which the people of southern Iraq made tremendous contributions and profound sacrifices.  We celebrate the victory, we honor the fallen, we take hope in the future.  
  • Regretfully, I end my assignment as Consul General this month.  
  • I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Steve and the entire staff of the Consulate for their hard work to deepen a bilateral relationship that is so important to the people of each country.  
  • And let me convey my sincere thanks to all of you – from Basrah, Muthanna, Dhi Qar, and Maysan – for the hospitality and the friendship that you have always shown me and my colleagues, and for your vital support of this relationship.  Wherever I am in the world, please know you have a grateful friend.   
  • Also departing later this month I’m sorry to add, is our Charge d’Affaires, Ms. Stephanie Williams.  She is a great friend of Iraq, and many of you know her from her previous visits.  I’m very grateful to her for her strong support on issues that are important to southern Iraq.  We’re very fortunate and pleased to have her with us today.  Madame Charge…