July 6, 2020
Ambassador Todd P. Haskell’s Remarks on the 244th Anniversary of America’s Independence
On this date, the 244th anniversary of the Independence of the United States, we look back on a tumultuous year for my country. 244 years ago, the founders of our nation committed themselves to the principle that all men are created equal, and the struggle to make that true continues to define our history.
Let me tell you a short story. In the American city of Boston, a crowd gathers to protest government policy. Security forces arrive to stop the protest, and shots are fired. A black man is killed. The incident is tragic. The people are outraged and demand political change.
These events occurred in 1770. Every American school child learns about them as the Boston Massacre. Within 13 years, the United States would win its independence; a new nation founded on the idea that all citizens shared the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The events of the last few months show that for some Americans, this idea remains an ideal, not a reality.
Mark Twain reportedly said, history does not repeat itself, but it rhymes. The brutal killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis reminds us of events in Boston more than two centuries ago. I hope also that Floyd’s tragic death will also be a catalyst for important reform, and that we as a nation shall take another, long-overdue step towards the ideals of our founders.
I am reassured that even in these difficult times that our institutions remain strong.
In the United States, when police abuse their power, the press covers the events, and the criminal justice system investigates, brings charges, and goes to court to seek justice.
In the United States, when journalists report critically about the president or a mayor or the police, no one is arrested or harassed.
In the United States, when the people demand change, politicians listen, or they are voted out of office.
Yes, the United States is imperfect. But Americans recognize deeply that we must always strive toward, in the words of the Constitution, “a more perfect union.”
This will be my last July 4th in Congo. I believe that during my time here we have built a strong partnership as we struggled together against a pandemic and during a challenging economic environment. I have traveled the length of this country, visited every department, and spoken to Congolese from every walk of life. I can tell you I am very optimistic for the future here. I will always have a warm place in my heart for this land. Thank you and God Bless the friendship between our two nations.