Thursday, June 21, 2018
Melia Hotel, Hanoi
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome, and thank you so much for coming to celebrate the 242nd anniversary of our Declaration of Independence. It’s an absolute pleasure to be surrounded by so many friends for this special occasion.
I want to first welcome our Guest of Honor from the Vietnamese Government, the Minister of Health, Madame Nguyen Thi Kim Tien. Minister Tien, we are deeply honored to have you with us today. We are also honored to be joined by so many other important guests, including the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the next Vietnamese Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Ha Kim Ngoc. Minister Ngoc, my friend, thank you so much for joining us as well.
As you may know, although I’ve only been here for eight months, this is actually my second Independence Day celebration in Vietnam. I was able to celebrate my first last week in Ho Chi Minh City. I guess that’s one of the benefits of being Ambassador! I want to thank our management team for all their hard work making this outstanding event possible. I would also like to thank the Air Force band “Pacific Trends” – you’re amazing! Most of all, I want to thank all of you, our treasured partners and friends, for attending.
The Fourth of July reminds us of the journey our nation has undertaken to build a “more perfect union.” Our Founding Fathers gave us a compass to guide this journey. On the Fourth of July 1776, they declared all people were created equal, with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
We have traveled far since then. Generations of Americans have struggled and sacrificed to protect these rights. Today, it is our role and responsibility to carry their vision forward. I think it’s important to remember, even 242 years after July 4th, 1776, we have a long way to go, and are still learning and progressing on that journey. But we remain committed to progress.
Speaking of journeys and progress…as you look around you will see motorcycles, automobiles, and symbols of the freedom of the open road. Tonight, we celebrate Route 66.
Route 66 was the first fully paved highway in the United States.
As the highway gained popularity, iconic all-American eateries and drive-ins opened along its shoulders. Family-owned stands sold ribs and sodas much like the ones we are serving tonight. To all of our sponsors, we want to thank you for the barbequed ribs, tacos, drinks, and everything else. We couldn’t have this celebration without you.
Route 66, known as “The Mother Road,” is more than a ribbon of concrete. Originating in Chicago, it connected America, all the way from the city of Chicago through cornfields in Kansas to the beaches and cities of California. Millions of Americans moved from rural areas to factory jobs in the cities. American society transformed. Route 66 granted Americans freedom to choose a new life. At its western end in Los Angeles, many Americans built a new future for themselves on the edge of the Pacific. Their stories remind us of the transitions and transformations we see every day here in lovely Hanoi.
The United States is committed to our Comprehensive Partnership with Vietnam, and to the Indo-Pacific region. We are invested in Vietnam’s success. We support the development of a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam, today and in the future. In my short time in Vietnam, I’ve been amazed by just how far we’ve come together. In the last two years, two American presidents have visited Vietnam, and Vietnam’s Prime Minister has visited Washington. We are: increasing trade and investment. Expanding security cooperation. Enhancing people-to-people ties and educational opportunities. Cooperating closely on issues like health and clean energy. All of which signals a robust, dynamic partnership that continues to broaden and deepen in so many areas.
Of course there is more to do to address the legacies of the past. But through hard work and mutual respect, we have gone from former adversaries to the closest of partners. That would not have happened without the trust and goodwill of our Vietnamese friends, so many of whom are here tonight, and we are so grateful to all of you for that.
So as we come together this evening, I want to let you know how deeply honored I am to celebrate America’s birthday with you today, and to reflect on our enduring ties, our growing partnership, and our common future.
I wish you all a very happy Independence Day. I hope you enjoy your trip down Route 66.
Now please join me in raising a glass to the enduring partnership and friendship between the United States and Vietnam!
Cheers! Thank you!