Happy Independence Day!
Happy Independence Day, everyone!
Our official celebration in Strasbourg took place on June 30 with a lovely garden party at the Consul General’s official residence. Many thanks to our wonderful sponsors, without whom we wouldn’t be able to host such a fun event. This year we were very proud to partner with Coca Cola, Mars, Dow Chemical, Pizza Hut, Hilton Hotels, Mercure Hotel (formerly the Holiday Inn), Kronenbourg Breweries, the City of Strasbourg, the American Chamber of Commerce in France, and our good friends at Association Alsace Etats-Unis and Americans in Alsace. A special thanks to all the volunteers from Alsace Etats-Unis and Americans in Alsace who helped with set up and cleanup, and who expertly cooked our famous American hot dogs and helped with all the other food stands. And a HUGE thank you to our musical entertainment, the U.S. Air Force’s Winds Aloft quartet and the talented young musicians from American Music Abroad. And finally, thanks to our many friends, supporters and diplomatic and consular colleagues who gave up their Saturday afternoon to help celebrate the 236thAnniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
As for July 4th itself, although it is an American holiday, I found myself spending the day at a Committee of Ministers meeting at the Council of Europe. The subject of the day, as it often is at such meetings, was the state of democracy in a number of the COE’s member states and in some of the countries affected by the Arab Spring. And I found myself thinking about the words of the Declaration of Independence, rather than just the picnics and parades we normally associate these days with the Fourth of July.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
This last sentence would later be expanded upon by President Abraham Lincoln in his famous Gettysburg Address, when he spoke of “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” So on July 4th, I was humbled to see that the words the Drafters of the Declaration of Independence still have meaning today, and remain relevant 236 years after they were first put to paper. And it also struck me that the struggle for democracy never ends. It must be protected, nurtured, debated, and sometimes even fought for over and over again.
But before you begin to start feeling sorry for me for having to work on the Fourth of July, I must admit that I was permitted to celebrate a little. That evening I was happy to co-host at the Residence with the English Speaking Union a wine tasting event featuring American wines. So although while most Americans who imbibe were celebrating the Fourth of July with a beer, I, too, was able to raise a glass (of California cabernet!) to toast the Independence of the United States of America.
Evan G. Reade