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“And to be an American is to be a friend of the Philippines”- Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr.

REMARKS BY AMBASSADOR HARRY K. THOMAS, JR. AT THE INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION, JULY 1, 2011

Foreign Secretary Albert F. del Rosario

Ambassadors and distinguished members of the diplomatic community

Friends

Magandang hapon sa inyong lahat.

Thank you all for joining us here today.

And a special thank you to Secretary Albert del Rosario, who honors us today with his presence. Your presence here is a symbol of the strength of our two nations’ alliance, and is a tribute to our friendship and to Philippine-American Friendship Day. I am honored to have you (all) here.

Mr. Secretary, I am pleased to welcome you back to the Philippines after your visit to the U.S. I know that I speak for Secretary Clinton, Secretary Gates, and Director of National Intelligence Clapper in thanking you for your trip. While you were in the United States, they each took the opportunity to reaffirm the deep bonds between our two nations, and our commitment to honoring our mutual obligations and I reiterate their statements today.

Today we celebrate not only the birth of the United States as a nation, but also Philippine-American Friendship. This is a special day when we remember our history and our duty; our families, near and far; and our responsibilities as Americans at home and abroad. In other words, it’s a day when we reflect on what it truly means to be an American.

Over the many years, our forefathers and predecessors have sacrificed much—in many cases their lives—to preserve the example of freedom and democracy that the Americans in this Embassy have the responsibility and the honor of representing overseas. In honoring this day, we honor those who have come before.

This is what it means to be an American.

We honor those who lived and died by the concept immortalized in our Declaration of Independence 235 years ago: that certain truths are self-evident and 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.”

This is what it means to be an American.

We honor those who took this credo to its limits, and fought to free slaves and secure universal suffrage; those who braved the backlash of an intolerant society to fight for civil liberties and those who gave their lives to turn the tides of aggression in many conflicts; those who served and now serve on the front lines of warfare and diplomacy, and those who are separated from their families by duty and love of country.

This is what it is to be American.

We are a strong nation, but the core of our strength lies in our ability to make and build relationships. To make friends, not war. To project the power of our ideas, not the strength of our arms.

This – this is what it means to be an American.

We are rightfully proud of our nation and of our unique history in the course of world events. As a nation, we have done many great things. But my friends, we never do them alone.

This is at the core of what it means to be an American.

The most important contributions we have made to the world, we have achieved in cooperation with our friends and allies abroad.

We are powered by our relationships—by our friendship with great nations like the Philippines, with whom we share historic ties and strong bonds of friendship and family. We are driven by our commitment to liberty and our knowledge that our friends are entitled to our protection and our loyalty when they are in peril. We are powered by our devotion to peace, and our drive to find solutions, not divisions.

This is what it means to be American. And this is what it means to be a friend to the Philippines.

Together, we harbor the same hope for the future of the Philippines that President Aquino shares with his nation, we marvel at the indomitable will and irrepressible spirit of the Filipino people, and we pledge to be an ally of the Filipino people long into the future.

This is what it means to be American. And this is what it means to be a friend.

Tonight, I ask you all to recognize that what truly defines us as Americans and as Filipinos is not the ability to stand for one ideal or value, but to work together for a better tomorrow for all of our children and grandchildren.

That, I believe, is what it truly means to be an American.

And to be an American is to be a friend of the Philippines.

Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat, may God bless you all, and may God continue to bless the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America.

Photos by me and US Embassy Manila

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