Ambassador Julie J. Chung’s Remarks at Independence Day Event

June 22, 2023

Good evening, Guest of Honor Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, ministers, parliamentarians, ambassadors, colleagues, friends.  Thank you all for joining us tonight.  I would like to particularly thank our sponsors for the event.

Famous American industrialist Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

I welcome all of you in joining us to celebrate the 75th anniversary of our bilateral relationship and America’s upcoming Independence Day.

It is right that, as close friends and strong partners, we celebrate together.

It is fitting that we also celebrate together, for we share a common vision for why we are in Sri Lanka – and that is to help and partner with its citizens to build a brighter future.

As the United States Ambassador, I represent my government’s strong interest in Sri Lanka’s stable and prosperous tomorrow.

That interest is clearly demonstrated as we celebrate 75 years of strong people-to-people ties, much economic, political, and social progress, and a deep and close partnership that will endure into the future, as it has for seven decades.

Soon, Americans will mark the 247th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence – my country’s first step toward freedom and democracy for our people.

We firmly believe that from freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, spring the dynamism and entrepreneurism that can develop a nation, alongside the political and social stability that will secure it.

That is true in the United States, in Sri Lanka, and everywhere in between.

Since our constitution was formed, America’s aim has been to form a more perfect union.

What does that mean?

We recognize and teach our history, the good and the bad, hard as it may be sometimes.

When needed, we adjust our legal frameworks and societal norms, slow as that progress may feel.

We continue to grow as a nation, welcoming others from across the globe, to join us in patching together the quilt that is America, even when that welcome seems overwhelmed with unmanageable demand.

Our history – and even sometimes our current headlines – lay bare our many flaws.  The truth is, we are not a perfect union yet.

But Americans are firm in their vision – an enduring belief – that a brighter future is on the horizon and so, so many are united in their work towards that better, more inclusive future.

That is why I am proud to be an American, especially as an immigrant whose family arrived upon America’s soil with determination and endless optimism.

And as Americans strive for a brighter future, so too do the citizens of Sri Lanka.

This year, Sri Lankans celebrate the 75th anniversary of your own independence.

The United States is one of Sri Lanka’s oldest partners, as we too celebrate 75 years of bilateral relations.

Staying together for 75 years is, as Henry Ford said, progress.

In fact, our year-long celebration of our relationship is one that celebrates People, Progress, and Partnership.

Seventy-five years of building people-to-people ties that bring Americans and Sri Lankans closer together.

As nations and as peoples, we are friends.  We have stood side-by-side, particularly in difficult times.

We have helped especially in the past year with fertilizer for a million paddy farmers, school lunches, training small business owners, strengthening financial sector reforms.

Our training for the legal profession, law enforcement, journalists, and civil society enrich the capabilities of each sector; our English and vocational classes and enduring Fulbright program empower the next generation of youth with valuable skills.

I’ve been struck this year by these ties.

But it goes beyond government assistance to the thousands of people behind the partnership:

The Alabama farmers who donated 40 tons of their own crop,

A young Sri Lankan American woman who established the first museum of her heritage in New York, and

The Sri Lankan scientist at NASA whose research on Mars is pushing our understanding of outer space.

There are countless people and organizations, particularly within the diaspora, who will continue to build the bridges between our countries.

Seventy-five years of progress, across an immense range of vitally important areas – trade and economic development, political stability and security, human rights, justice, the environment, health, food security, education, and so much more.

And that progress should and must continue to move forward through close collaboration.

Seventy-five years of close cultural and personal relationships between the Sri Lankan and American people and our clear record of progress together demonstrate the power of our Partnership.

As Sri Lanka’s largest export market and as one of its largest donors, the United States has stood firm as a partner here.

That partnership has led to preserving cultural heritage sites, addressing climate change goals together through the Global Methane Pledge, and utilizing donated U.S. Coast Guard cutters to combat drug trafficking and conduct search and rescue operations.

Similarly, as a vital friend in the region, we have also shown the value of partnership to respect sovereignty and strengthen maritime security to ensure a rules-based free and open Indo Pacific.

Today, as we celebrate America’s national independence and our 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations, we are really celebrating a remarkable partnership with all the citizens and the Government of Sri Lanka.

For Americans, our founders stated it clearly, and to this day, we follow the course they laid – we respect and adhere to our Constitution in order to form a more perfect union.

The objective of the United States’ partnership with Sri Lanka is no less profound.

We work together, we strive together, we aspire together, to build what Henry Ford would recognize as success – a brighter future for both our countries.

Thank you.  Now, please join me in a toast to our next 75 years – and well beyond!