Happy Fourth of July — on June 30!
Governor and Mrs. Fergusson, Premier and Mrs. Dunkley, distinguished guests – one and all. It is my distinct pleasure to welcome you to Cedarhurst. Along with my colleagues at the U.S. Consulate, my husband Rob and I thank you for coming to help us celebrate the 240th anniversary of the independence of the United States.
In deference to my esteemed diplomatic colleague, Governor Ferguson, I won’t dwell too much on those tumultuous years around 1776, other than to say that today — 240 years after the birth of the United States — the US and the UK are celebrating the 70th anniversary of what is often referred to as a “special relationship”, a phrase first used by Winston Churchill in the aftermath of World War II in his Iron Curtain speech at Fulton, Missouri — my home state.
And if the UK and the US enjoy a special relationship, then I would describe the ties between Bermuda and the United States as a very special relationship which actually dates back farther than the 240 years of our independence. Rob and I have thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the history and deep ties that bind Bermuda and the United States, from the Gunpowder Plot to the US military presence here for so many years, to the many family ties, economic links, scientific collaborations, educational affiliations, and so much more.
Despite the closing of the military base in the 1990’s, the U.S. government remains very active here in Bermuda. Our Customs and Border Patrol officers allow Bermudians and visitors alike to cross the U.S. border right here at the International Airport. We have crews from NASA on island right now preparing a mobile tracking station for a rocket launch in July which will provision the International Space Station. And we are looking forward to NASA re-establishing a permanent tracking station here in the near future which will also be used as an educational facility in conjunction with the Bermuda Government.
There is also on-going cooperation between various U.S. military services and Bermuda through the Regiment and services at the airport. I was proud to see the Marine band perform so beautifully at the Tattoo last fall and we are expecting the Coast Guard tall ship, the Eagle, to arrive back in Bermuda in July.
The Consulate is delighted to be involved in this history and strives to be an active and engaged member of the community here in Bermuda. I have had the pleasure of working with so many outstanding groups and individuals here in Bermuda since my arrival last summer.
For example, we have collaborated with the Chewstick Foundation on a cultural program and have continued our Movie Nights at the Bermuda National Library. We worked with numerous scientific organizations, like BIOS and BAMZ, NGO’s and Bermuda government offices to organize Bermuda’s first Fishackathon, which provided computer programmers an opportunity to address global environmental challenges. We partnered with the Family Centre, SCARS, and other Bermuda Government offices to conduct discussions and workshops aimed at addressing sexual abuse against children.
The Consulate also had opportunities to send Bermudians to the United States on exchange programs. We sent a young Bermudian entrepreneur to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in California earlier this month and sent a leader in disability rights to the U.S. to consult with her American peers, and are hoping to send a young scientist from Bermuda to a major international conference on oceans in September.
It has been wonderful to work with so many engaged people and to be part of the vibrant, active and generous community that calls Bermuda home.
Before closing, I would like to thank everyone who has made today’s celebration possible. We have a large number of sponsors who support the event and a number of their representatives are with us today. Please note the names of these supporters on the tables. A special welcome to all of you and a heartfelt thank you for your continued support. Second, I would like to thank everyone at the Consulate who has worked so hard to put this event together. It is our biggest event of the year and requires many hands to make it possible, so thank you to all my colleagues at the Consulate for making this event happen year after year.
We are all aware that we live in “interesting times.” The world often feels chaotic and the challenges that we face seem overwhelming. But throughout the natural progression of time, friendships and partnerships between like-minded countries and peoples endure as we work toward common goals of freedom and prosperity for our citizens.
And that is what we are celebrating today – our Fourth of July party on June 30: 240 years of striving to build a better tomorrow. 240 years of optimism that we can do better and that we can find the solutions to the problems that face us. Admittedly, we don’t always get it right on the first go, but we keep working at what de Tocqueville called “the great American experiment.”
So, I would like to end with thanking you all for being here with us today and then proposing a toast to the United States – despite our imperfections and mistakes, may it continue to pursue its ideals and value its partnerships around the world, including its special relationship with the UK and its citizens and its very special relationship with the people of Bermuda.
Now, let’s have fun. Please enjoy the music of the Kennel Boys, the food, the drinks, and the company of our friends and colleagues in Bermuda!