Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer's Independence Day Message

July 4, 2005

On the occasion of our nation's 229th birthday, I would like to extend my warmest wishes to those Americans currently residing in Japan, and express my sincere appreciation to the Japanese people, our gracious hosts.

On this day in 1776, the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, a simple piece of parchment carrying a bold statement of universal principles. With a few strokes of a quill pen, the notion that "all men are created equal" became the cornerstone for a fledgling nation and laid the foundation for an unprecedented experiment in democratic self-government.

As I sat down to compose this message, I could not help but wonder what our founding fathers would have thought of the outcome of their great experiment, over two centuries later. Could they have imagined that their new country would count faraway Japan among its closest allies and friends? Could they have imagined that their achievements would be honored on the Internet, a piece of virtual parchment readable almost anywhere in the world?

And could they have imagined that their prescient vision of enlightened democracy would someday sweep the world, bringing freedom to every corner of the globe?

Although they may not have foreseen the incredible success of the United States of America that they created, I doubt that our predecessors would have been surprised. The values that they chose to build their new nation upon were universal values, democratic ideals that transcend both geography and time. The freedoms that Americans enjoy today - a free press, freedom of worship, due process of law - are also highly valued in Japan, forming the basis of a lasting partnership between our two countries. The Internet in which this message now exists is a decidedly democratic marketplace of ideas and opinions, providing a forum for free speech that Patrick Henry or Thomas Jefferson would have instantly appreciated. So firmly did this revolutionary generation believe in its sacred cause, that it would have come as no surprise that democratic countries like Japan and the United States would someday join together to bring the freedoms they cherish to those not yet free.

So on this July 4th holiday, I would like to thank the Japanese people for helping advance the vision set forth by the Second Continental Congress 229 years ago. Thank you for standing with us in our efforts to bring democracy to Iraq, peace to the Korean Peninsula, and assistance to tsunami-ravaged Southeast Asia. In our increasingly global society, the continued success of our strong democracies will rest on the strength of global partnerships like our own. Have a safe and happy Independence Day, and I look forward to our two nations celebrating together for many more years to come.