22 November 2012
St Paul’s Cathedral
London, UK

After reading from President Obama’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, Ambassador Susman said:

Since the time of Abraham Lincoln, it has been tradition for the President to share his thoughts with the nation on Thanksgiving Day.

An image from Thanksgiving Day Service 2009 which also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the St Paul's Thanksgiving Day service. (Photo courtesy of Roland Kemp)

An image from Thanksgiving Day Service 2009 which also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the St Paul’s Thanksgiving Day service. (Photo courtesy of Roland Kemp)

And for more than 50 years it has been custom for the American Ambassador to offer personal reflections here at St. Paul’s.

It is an honor I have had on three previous occasions – and have today for the fourth and final time.

I am incredibly proud and extremely humbled to stand before you today.

Because for all the privileges afforded the United States Ambassador to the Court of St. James’, nothing compares to the majesty of this moment.

To look out on these glorious surroundings and to address over 2,000 fellow Americans on Thanksgiving is truly inspiring.

And as I contemplate my many blessings today, I am thankful to my family – for their ceaseless love and support; to my country – for the opportunities it has given me; and to the people of the United Kingdom – for their warmth and friendship.

Over the last 3½ years I have traveled across much of what Shakespeare called “this precious stone set in the silver sea”.

From the coast of Cornwall to the glens of Scotland; from the fens of East Anglia to the valleys of Wales and the mountains of Northern Ireland.

Along the way I’ve experienced Britain’s rich and varied landscapes, enjoyed the genius of its culture, felt the vibrancy of its democracy, and discovered the diversity of its population.

I have visited cities, towns and villages throughout the United Kingdom.  And everywhere I have been welcomed with open arms and open minds.

For an American, there is no greater honor than being Ambassador to the Court of St. James’.

St Paul's cathedral choir and U.S. Marine Corps

St Paul’s cathedral choir and U.S. Marine Corps

As President Obama said in March: “The relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is the strongest that it has ever been.”

When one sees it at work every day – as I have done – you understand exactly why it still occupies such a distinct place in the world.

Our relationship is special because of our shared history, our shared heritage, and our close ties of language and culture.

It is essential because of our shared commitments to the values of liberty, equality, universal rights and human dignity.

Values first brought to the American continent almost four centuries ago by a hardy and hope-filled band of Pilgrims – many of whom had earlier set forth from this island.

But these ideals are not just a remnant from our shared past.

They remain the indispensable building blocks for a better future.

And it is our unshakeable faith in these values that will help us overcome the challenges we face today.

Those challenges – at home and abroad – are many, complex and demanding.

But despite the serious concerns they raise, I believe it is important on this day especially to retain perspective.

Americans have much to be thankful for.

Our daily lives are enriched by family, faith, health, love and hope.

Our communities are resilient, and our compassion is strong.

Indeed, as we sit down to our Thanksgiving dinners we pray for those throughout the world enslaved by hunger, poverty and disease.

We also hold a special place in our hearts for those men and women of our armed forces away from their loved ones this Thanksgiving as they serve to keep us safe.

And we are grateful for all the enduring friendships that sustain us.

In particular here in London, we recognize America’s solid partnership with the United Kingdom and the British people

There is no more powerful example of it than this annual Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul’s.

That such an acclaimed British institution hosts a distinctly American holiday is testimony to the depth of our special relationship.

Indeed, this cathedral is itself a great symbol of the unbreakable bonds that unite our two nations.

From the statues, busts and monuments all around that speak to our shared history, to the magnificent American Memorial Chapel.

And today – once again – this splendid and venerable landmark will echo to the sound of more than 2,000 Americans singing “God Bless America”

It is a moment that I always treasure.

I shall never forget it, I shall certainly miss it.

Thank you, may God bless you and your families.  And may God bless the United Kingdom and the United States of America.