Ambassador Leonard’s 2021 July 4th National Day Video Remarks

Happy 4th of July!  This year, like last, we continue to observe COVID-19 protocols and sadly we will not be gathering in large groups with our Nigerian friends and colleagues.  Due to the rapid scientific advancements achieved last year, we are in a brighter position today with effective vaccinations at work and being distributed around the world as quickly as they can be produced.

On July 4th, across the United States, millions of Americans will unite with friends and neighbors to enjoy their favorite foods, celebrate the ability to gather, renew their national pride, and of course….watch fireworks.  Like in Nigeria, the challenges of this past year were daunting, but not insurmountable.

As we ponder our roots and what the United States has been, and what we strive for it to become, I share the words of our forefather, John Quincy Adams spoken exactly 200 years ago on July 4, 1821: “America’s glory is not dominion, but liberty.  Her march is the march of the mind.  She has a spear and a shield:  but the motto upon her shield is, Freedom, Independence, Peace.  This has been her Declaration.”

Today, we remind ourselves of our democratic values and fundamental freedoms, just as we will for hundreds of years to come.  We believe in the need to defend these values, to stand up for human rights and the universal freedoms that all men and women intrinsically have – not because we have lived up to this standard in the United States, but because we are committed to striving towards this ideal.  As President Biden has noted, we have always been a forward-leaning nation, one still striving toward a more perfect union.  Through unity we are best able to confront the challenges that we share.  I believe the same to be true for Nigeria as well.  Conversations to address misperceptions and grievances are important in democracies, including to address questions around equality of access, opportunity and resources.

Five years from now – on July 4, 2026 – will be the 250th anniversary of the United States’ Independence.  Today we begin the celebration with our partners at the America 250 Foundation and invite all Americans, as well as our Nigerian friends, to help honor our past and shape our future.

We thank Nigerians for celebrating with us today and more importantly for 60 years of robust partnership.