Ambassador Matthew Barzun
London, United Kingdom
30 June 2016
AMBASSADOR BARZUN: So great to see you all here today! My fellow diplomats, friends, friends of friends: Welcome to Winfield House!
And where are the Young Leaders UK- the YLUK-ers? Are you having fun?
Thank you all for being here to celebrate America’s 240th Birthday.
For Brooke and me, this is our final time marking the Fourth of July overseas – two in Stockholm and three here.
I’ve got to say, at first we were a bit worried -I mean our Declaration of Independence was addressed to…how do I put this diplomatically…a postcode not overly far from where I stand now.
But it turns out, there was no need.
The fact is that even though we once fought a war over independence, we have depended on each other pretty much ever since. And our interdependence now is stronger than ever.
President Obama likes to remind us of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said we live in an “inescapable network of mutuality.”
He’s right. That gives us a choice- as nations and as individuals.
Even when we stand – proudly and independently- on our own two feet, that leaves us a choice about what to do with our arms:
We can fold them- in a gesture of defiance or defensiveness.
Or we can choose to reach out. Across the room. Across the aisle. Across the generations, across the water… in a gesture of inclusion.
And so I want to ask you to help me with my toast by literally doing just that.
This might be a bit awkward for some of our British friends, or anyone like me who was raised in New England- but it’s going to be ok.
Just reach out to the person next to you with your free hand- with your non-drink hand – all the better if you don’t know them. Now raise those hands up like this.
Okay, everybody found someone?
To the United States on its 240th birthday and to the United Kingdom:
Here’s to going from the bitterest of foes to the bestest of friends; from standing toe-to-toe to standing shoulder to shoulder; whatever future stands before us, let’s face it, forge it, fill it with hope- together- hand in hand.
Happy Fourth of July! Thanks for coming!