Best Wishes for Independence Day 2007

Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer
July 2, 2007

This is my third opportunity as U.S. Ambassador to Japan to offer a Fourth of July greeting to my fellow Americans living and working here. Much has happened at home and abroad in the year since July 4, 2006. We live in a time of profound change, in a world filled with both danger and opportunity. Yet basic values - as American as they are universal - still guide our hopes and dreams as individuals and as nations in a globalized world. I have yet to find a better expression of these values than what the authors of the United States of America's Declaration of Independence wrote on July 4, 1776: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Our founding fathers declared that everyone is created equal, and this is why the United States is committed to helping people everywhere achieve freedom as a basic human right. America has always believed that a key part of its strength comes from its diversity - whether in terms of national origin, language, religion or personal convictions - and that it is the unity of diverse peoples with a common core belief in freedom that makes a nation great. As you know, the United States was founded by immigrants, and over the decades, immigrants - first from Europe, then from Africa, Asia and all parts of the world - have played a central role in building an America that is strong, wealthy and free; a nation that is a beacon of hope for the more than 3 billion people in the world who still lack freedom and protection of their basic human rights.

A love of freedom, a reverence for individual rights, and a respect for diversity are values that Americans hold dear and take great pride in supporting around the world. As Americans, we are proud of our beliefs. We are proud that more people than ever in the history of the world live in free and democratic societies. At the same time, we are - and must continue to be - humble in our relations with other peoples of the world. By respecting and supporting the rights of others, we strengthen that which is good and right in ourselves as Americans. Just as we did in two World Wars in Europe and Asia - and just as we are doing now in Iraq and Afghanistan - we are using our strength in support of freedom and to aid those living under tyranny, so that all the world's citizens may enjoy the blessings that Americans have celebrated each July 4th for 231 years: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

On this occasion of America's 231st birthday, I ask my fellow Americans to join me in celebrating our freedom and our friendship with the great people of Japan.