It is a great pleasure to be here with you to celebrate our country’s birthday.
I would first like to thank our wonderful hosts, Bob and Sophia Blake, for this amazing and eco-friendly evening.
While I can’t compete in height with Ambassador Blake and they have given me a little box to stand on, I can take some measure of pride in knowing that my area of responsibility covers 10
ASEAN Member States, including the big, important country of Indonesia.
Here we are in Jakarta, the Twitter capital of the world.
So you may be interested to know that on July 3, 1776, a newspaper called the Pennsylvania Gazette published a statement that we might consider the first American Tweet.
Buried beneath two pages of ads, and less than 140 characters long, was the first news coverage of what was to become the most important event in U.S. history.
It read simply: “Philadelphia, July 3: Yesterday the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies free and independent states.”
Tonight we commemorate that occasion, and it is appropriate that many of our guests are representatives to or from ASEAN.
Just as the phenomenal diversity of ASEAN’s member states has been a source of its dynamism, so too has the United States relied on the strength that comes from our very diverse citizens: men and women, representing every religion, race and ethnicity, from every corner of the earth, including millions from Asia.
And just as one of the principles guiding America’s founders was the rule of law, ASEAN is at the very heart of a rules-based system in Asia, serving as an essential lynchpin of regional order and stability, and enshrining in the preamble of its Charter our shared principles of democracy, the rule of law, good governance, and respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Let me join Ambassador Blake in thanking you for being here tonight. Have a fun, celebratory and environmentally sustainable evening!