Panama City, July 3, 2020. -Each year on July 4 we celebrate Independence Day in the United States of America, the date in 1776 the thirteen colonies declared themselves independent from the British Crown. This year in particular, I have been struck by the words of the preamble of the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
I have reflected on how our country has both lived up to these soaring ideals and fallen short of these words in the 244 years since they were written. Our democracy has endured a Civil War, attacks by other countries, and acts of terrorism. We have peacefully transitioned governments 45 times. We have enacted laws that guarantee the protection of all of our citizens, despite their gender, race, or national origin.
However, current events in the United States remind us again that, in pursuit of the “more perfect union” our Constitution aspires to, our work as citizens is not done. The legacy of slavery – systemic racism and inequality – remains a reality for too many Americans of color. In the same year our Supreme Court affirmed the right of all Americans to employment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, our fellow countrymen and women continue their long struggle for the equal treatment without regard to the color of their skin.
The sadness I feel that our country continues to struggle with the evils of racism after so many years is met with growing hope, as Americans of every background raise their voices to demand change, accountability, and equality. We have much work to do as we continue to build the more perfect union to which we aspire. The respect for fundamental rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, is what makes our democracy strong, and is part of what we commemorate today around the world.
As both our countries confront the coronavirus pandemic, the United States is working to balance our history of rugged individualism with the responsibilities we have to protecting our fellow citizens and communities. So it is in the hemisphere we share. Our Embassy is proud to stand with Panama in these challenging times, as we continue to strengthen our bonds of friendship and celebrate the democratic values we hold in common.
Let’s take a moment today to celebrate the values that unite our countries.
Happy Independence Day.
Chargé d’Affaires a.i.