Good evening, I am delighted to welcome you all to the United States Embassy to commemorate the 246th anniversary of the United States of America. Tonight marks the first U.S. National Day ceremony we’ve hosted since 2019. I’m glad global and local efforts to address the pandemic have led to this time when we can once again come together in person.
Allow me to thank Nourat and the Lions for this beautiful interpretation of the American and Burkinabe national anthems. And let me also thank our Marine Safety Officers for their presentation, as well as the National Anthems, which set the tone for tonight’s reception. And let me thank everyone at the Embassy who worked so hard to put everything together for this evening. Let’s give them all a round of applause.
You noticed that our flag is at half mast. President Biden orders American flags to be flown at half-mast in honor of Highland Park, Illinois, shooting victims. Here in Burkina Faso, we are witnessing attacks that claim many victims. Our thoughts are with the victims in the United States as well as the victims in Burkina Faso.
I would like to ask you to observe a minute of silence in their memory. Thanks.
Two hundred and forty-six years ago, the Declaration of Independence, our founding document, enshrined a promise, and I quote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, including Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness; that to guarantee these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
The Constitution and its first ten amendments list the rights we hold dear, including freedom of speech, assembly, religion, among others. The Constitution speaks of “creating a more perfect union” and that is the challenge of any democracy, to create a more perfect union, to preserve and protect rights, to give a voice to all its people, to create a government and institutions that will meet the needs of its people. Over time, as a nation, we have worked, even fought, to expand these rights and strengthen our democracy so that the promise of these words extends to all in law and in practice. We did this by abolishing slavery, guaranteeing the right to vote and promoting equality for women, minorities, LGBTQ+ people, among other acts. Promoting the rule of law is a permanent duty in any democracy.
We realize that the creation of a more perfect union is underway, sometimes straining our institutions and our society. OOur work to fight for equality, respect for diversity and the rule of law remains at the heart of the American mission. The United States and its close partners understand that building a more equitable, inclusive, and secure society is our common goal. From eliminating gender-based violence to ending racial discrimination, there is always more work to be done – but what could be a nobler cause?
And so, as we look back on nearly two and a half centuries of American history, we do so with humility but also with pride – of how we learn from the past, identify and meet our challenges, and continually renew our society to be more inclusive, more open, more just and, quite simply, greater.
I am convinced that there is something in the American experience that will resonate here in Burkina Faso and contribute to the transition to a democratically elected government and the protection of human rights and civil liberties. We look forward to seeing what concrete and specific steps the transitional government will take to ensure fair and credible elections and the speedy return to a democratically elected, civilian-led government.
The coup had profound consequences for our engagement in Burkina Faso, including the end of some of our programs. That said, the United States is acutely aware of the challenges Burkina Faso faces and continues our engagement and programs in many important ways. Our people-to-people partnership remains as strong as ever. Our humanitarian aid has never stopped and has in fact increased as the needs grew and then following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which caused death and enormous suffering to the people of Ukraine. Ukraine, the effects of which reverberate around the world. Our development efforts aim to promote public health, resilience, economic growth, democracy and good governance. The United States supports Burkina Faso and its current international partners to address security challenges in the Sahel. It’s hard work, but together we can turn the tide against the forces of violent extremism.
I cherish the opportunity that my position as ambassador gives me to meet Burkinabe people from all walks of life. Your views on the current context shape my perception and understanding of the complexities facing the country. It also gave me a deep respect for the people of Burkina Faso and your creative minds, passionate hearts and resilient outlook as you tackle Burkina’s challenges. The United States values the seventy-year relationship with Burkina Faso, and I remain optimistic that we can move forward together toward our common goals in the coming year.
I want to thank you again for your company and please enjoy the rest of the evening.