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August 5, 2022

Independence Day Celebration

Remarks by

Ambassador Victoria Reggie Kennedy 

Independence Day Celebration

Ambassador’s Residence

July 6, 2022 

Good evening and welcome.

Chancellor Nehammer, Minister Kocher, Minister Polaschek, Minister Totschnig, Excellencies and distinguished colleagues of the diplomatic corps, Friends and family from all over the world,

Thank you for joining us to celebrate U.S. Independence Day.  After a two-year hiatus, U.S. Embassy Vienna is thrilled to be able to celebrate this special day with you – in person.  We’re so happy you’re here.

246 years ago, on July 4, 1776, a group of brave Americans pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to declare the independence of the United States of America.  In a few phrases, they laid out a vision for their new country that captured the promise of America, of what we strive to be – that we are all created equal; that we are endowed with certain inalienable rights, such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  When we are at our best, the United States is a country of freedom and opportunity, and of liberty, equality and justice for all.

Ambassador Victoria Kennedy
© Hannes Jirgal

From an upstart confederation of 13 colonies in 1776, the United States of America has grown and flourished to be the nation that it is today.   Our nation has faced challenges – as recently and heartbreakingly as at a Fourth of July parade near Chicago just two days ago – but we have never and will never stop striving to be a more perfect union.  And I believe that – the desire always to improve – is America’s greatest strength.

Our abiding commitment to democratic values not only guides us at home, but also animates and undergirds our foreign policy.  It is the force that guides our efforts to create a more secure, prosperous and peaceful world.

Whether supporting the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine or helping combat the global food crisis; whether developing and distributing lifesaving COVID-19 vaccinations or working together with like-minded nations to address the climate crisis, our values shape our actions.

We know that today’s world is complex and contested.  We’re facing challenges the founding fathers of my country could hardly have envisioned.  But for me, that’s the genius of their blueprint for the idea and the ideal that is America.  Buttressed by democracy and the broader democratic values laid out in the Declaration of Independence, I am optimistic that the United States is ready to face the challenges of the future.

The values that bind the people of the United States to each other also bind the United States and Austria together.  In Austria, we have an ally for human rights and dignity; for democratic values and social justice; for the rule of law and a rules-based international order.

We have been so proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Austria in condemning Russia’s unprovoked, unjustified, and brutal war against Ukraine.  I see my friend Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Khymynets with us this evening, and want him to know – and I want all of you to know – that we stand with Ukraine in their struggle against Vladimir Putin’s regime.

As we see the bravery of the Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom and sovereignty, we Americans are reminded in a special way of our own fight for freedom and independence, a fight that did not begin or end with the Declaration of Independence that we celebrate today.  Our independence was not pre-ordained nor was it as inevitable as it seems in retrospect.  It took courage and sacrifice to seize it, and even more to maintain and preserve it.  Just as it takes courage and sacrifice by the Ukrainians in their battle to preserve their independence. Slava Ukraini! 

Now, it is my great pleasure and honor to welcome Chancellor Karl Nehammer to address our celebration this evening.

Chancellor, in my first six months as U.S. Ambassador to Austria, I have seen the strength of the shared values and common interests that bind our countries and our people together. I have seen the strength of Austrian institutions and am so pleased that our two countries have grown closer through the power of our Strategic Partnership. We have worked closely together on counterterrorism, have a new State Partnership Program between the Austrian military and the Vermont National Guard, and recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to expand the exceptional Austrian apprenticeship model in the United States.  We are proud to work closely with Austria to fight for human rights and to help address climate change. And we are delighted to have you join us this evening to say a few words.

Ladies and gentlemen, Happy Fourth of July.  And please join me in welcoming Chancellor Karl Nehammer to the podium.