Remarks by Ambassador Patterson on the Occasion of U.S. Independence Day
July 4th, 2012
Good evening. I am pleased to welcome so many of our Egyptian and American friends here tonight, as well as distinguished members of the diplomatic corps. We are honored by your presence as we mark the independence for the United States of America. This occasion, is important for Americans, as we recall the words of our declaration of independence written 236 years ago:
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; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;
These words are even more meaningful for us this year in Egypt, as you have moved forward with your own transition to democracy.
Americans are proud of our democratic achievements but we also understand how hard it is to build a democratic nation. In addition to regular elections to choose new leaders, Americans rely on the protections of rights and democratic practices in our daily lives as well as strong institutions, flexible procedures and active civil society organizations. We also depend on a vigorous private sector to create economic growth to fulfill our expectations for the future.
Like all democracies, we continue to struggle with the right balance between civil liberties and security, between the role of government and the role of private sector, between spending on the current needs of the population or investing in the future.
Issues of race and immigration have been among the most contentious issues in our country’s history. The role of religion in public life has been a constant source of controversy. Americans are the first to admit that we have made mistakes along the road, but we all take assurance in the fact that in November we will again be participating in national elections to choose our President and Congress.
On July 4th, Americans reaffirm their faith in our ability to resolve these issues democratically, through our elected leaders, our legislature, and our courts. As you move forward with building democracy in Egypt, this large and historic country at the heart of the Arab world, please know that Americans support you. Your elections this year have encouraged people in the United States and around the world.
As a registered witness during your elections, I saw the major strides forward Egypt has taken in the past year as young people and old people, women and men waited in line to vote. In the months ahead, Egypt will adopt a constitution that sets forth accepted distributions of legislative, executive and judicial powers as well as articulates rights for all your citizens.
The return of a democratically-elected Parliament, following a process decided by Egyptians, will also be an important move forward. When you are ready, Americans are prepared to roll up our sleeves and go to work to help rebuild Egypt’s economy, because we all know that until we can get Egyptians working again and the economy growing, the success of your democratic experiment could be in jeopardy.
During times of national crisis and war, Americans take pride in our ability to unite for important common purposes even when we have deep political differences. Egyptians, too, have persevered through a difficult period and need to begin working together for Egypt’s future.
To establish your democracy and encourage investors and tourists to return, Egypt needs all of its citizens – women and men – to participate. A country that wants to take its rightful place in the world economy cannot afford to handicap half of its population or to discriminate against groups of its citizens.
On America’s Independence Day, we reach out to our friends here in Egypt to offer our hand in partnership for the work ahead of us. Supporting your democratic transition is our duty according to our own democratic history. Seeing Egypt rise again and prosper will be our honor.
Thank you for sharing this evening with us.