This year, the U.S. Embassy is commemorating our Independence Day in unprecedented fashion.
The world has been collectively battling the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic, and we have all had to adjust to the “new normal” of maintaining physical distance and avoiding situations that could be conducive to the spread of the virus.
So, I am speaking to you today by video but it is with the hope that we will soon be able to come together again. We want to be able to come together to build and to share our stories, and to strengthen those bonds of friendship that ties us so closely to one another.
This pandemic has compounded what was already a very difficult economic crisis that Lebanon has been going through. It has impacted the lives of everyone in the country. Turning this around is going to take a lot of hard work to implement long-overdue economic reforms.
As this happens, know that the United States stands with the Lebanese people. We have been there to help the people of Lebanon, and just as we provided support and help to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also providing economic support, development and humanitarian assistance.
This year, that is not the only challenge that we are facing, however. Within the United States, we are also addressing our own challenges.
In the aftermath of the horrific killing of George Floyd on May 25, Americans have been engaging collectively and individually in much-needed soul searching about racism and criminal justice in the United States.
Our country was founded on ideals of equality and opportunity for all. Our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution enshrine these basic rights.
This year, as we celebrate our independence, let us all reflect and renew our efforts to achieve–as the preamble of our Constitution puts it, in “a more perfect union” – and ensure that everyone, regardless of race or ethnic identity, or gender or sexual orientation, has equal access to opportunity, and equal access to a free and dignified existence.
There is great symbolism in the presentation of the colors by our Marine Security Guard Detachment. This ceremony honors the American flag, as well as the values and ideals it represents to Americans.
The ceremony also reminds us of those who came before us and helped secure the rights and freedoms that we enjoy. Sometimes, they pay the ultimate price of their own lives.
By raising our Stars and Stripes, we recommit to pursuing a more perfect union, and to exemplifying the ideals that America stands for.
Like the Lebanese, we are a resilient people, we face challenges head-on, and we continue to grow, adapt, and learn.
Both of our countries have seen conflict and hardship, and I believe that we have emerged better, stronger, more motivated, and more determined to create the future that we want for our countries and for our societies.
I wish each and every one of you a Happy Independence Day! I look forward to meeting you, working with you, and celebrating with you when the time is right.
As our Embassy hashtag says, we are in this together, and I know we have great possibilities ahead of us!