(The following are remarks, as prepared, by Amb. David Carden to guests of the 2012 U.S. Independence Day Party, co-hosted by the U.S. Mission to ASEAN and the U.S. Embassy to Indonesia. The event was held on July 3, 2012.)
Good evening on this, the eve of our country’s 236th Birthday.
America is a nation of nations, and so it is only right that we should celebrate our birthday with friends born in so many other places. Our country always has been open to the world, and the world has filled us up. Those who have come from every corner of the globe have made us more than we knew we could be, yet always dreamed we might become. And the world still is coming, helping us realize our promise. Last year over 1.2m immigrants came to America. Thirty six percent of them were Asian, the highest percentage by region. Hundreds of thousands were granted citizenship. Today almost 6% of American citizens are Asian.
Our country’s greatest hopes live in the hearts of its people—especially the new immigrants, residents and citizens who join us every year in the great experiment that has been and continues to be democracy in America. Our story is their story. Our song is their song.
It is for this reason that I think of America as a poem being written by all of its people. It is an ode to the ideas first embodied in the Declaration of our Independence, signed by a brave few on July 4, 1776. Their ideas were so powerful that July 4th still is known the world over as the day America began. The ideas still inspire others to come to help make our country a better place.
And so today we are gathered to honor those ideas and the brave few, our founders, who had the courage to change what needed to be changed and throw the doors wide open for others to come. We do so not with military pomp; nor with tanks and ranks of uniformed soldiers. We celebrate this day by extending hospitality to our families and friends. This day is the poetry of picnics; of blankets spread upon the ground; of children playing at the same games their parents played; of parades of bikes and dogs and brass bands; of special foods; of fireworks lighting the upturned faces of those who have come to our shores. These are the ways we celebrate our birthday, and thank those who have come from around the world to help make us who and what we have become, and hope still to be.
Thank you for doing us the honor of being our guests tonight. Have a wonderful evening.