2020 July 4thSpeech
Ambassador Eric StromayerHappy July 4!
As with all other holidays that have taken place this year, sadly the effects of the Coronavirus have prevented our traditional celebrations of the 244th U.S. Independence Day. Despite the negative impacts of this illness around the world, we continue to persevere. I am convinced that together, we will defeat the virus. America’s founding and history are rooted in perseverance.
If the events of recent weeks in the United States have taught us anything, it is that we must take nothing for granted, and continue to strive as one people to ensure that all people, regardless of race, creed, sex, or origin have the basic human rights they deserve.Persistent efforts to gain those rights are a part of our history. First the Revolution, then the Civil War and since then other efforts. This year we celebrate the centenary of the successful effort by women to gain the right to vote. It has been thirty years since disabled people’s rights were protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The list goes on. The diverse people of our country have sought and gained equal rights under the law and continue to do so. But we must never forget that it is not only about laws. We must ensure that these rights become part of the fabric of our nation. Guaranteed by law and observed. As Americans we often say the US is a work in progress, and so we persevere in our efforts to right the wrongs of the past as they are
recognized and build a better future for all.
That is a key part of what America is all about.
In July 1960 at the Hotel Benin of the time, the first US Ambassador to Togo celebrated July 4th here. We were the first country to have a diplomatic mission here with a team arriving in May 1959. Sixty years later the strong partnership between the United States and Togo endures. As we look beyond COVID 19, we will continue to work alongside our Togolese partners on our shared priorities of peace and security, economic growth, strong democratic institutions, and opportunities for all.
Much of our collaboration is reflected through the amazing contributions of Togolese after returning from educational exchanges in the United States.
In the International Visitor Leadership Program, or IVLP, we identify aspiring Togolese leaders for three-week professional development opportunities. This year marks 80 years of this program, proving the value of mutual understanding through exchanges around the world.
The Young African Leaders Initiative, or YALI, is a program that embodies principles from Nelson Mandela to give young Togolese the skills to positively impact their communities. We are proud to be in the tenth year of this program.
Lastly, though our Peace Corps Volunteers have left, we are planning to bring them back, to continue the Peace Corps partnership that started in August 1962, 58 years ago. There are many other programs that so many Togolese know and benefit from coming from various US agencies, their partners and US NGOs. These will continue.
The young men and women of the IVLP, YALI, Peace Corps and other programs show us is that Togolese and American perseverance and hard work leads to a successful future.I encourage all to persevere and adapt to post- COVID pandemic reality and stay safe now.The United States will continue to partner with you as we have for the past 60 years, up-to today including providing recent substantial assistance to Togo during the COVID pandemic.These are difficult times both in the US and around the world, but we will emerge stronger together, and continue our 60-year partnership.
A Happy July 4 to all!“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all (women and) men are created equal…”Declaration of Independence.