Remarks by U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley at the 2016 American Independence Day Celebration,
Paris, France, June 27, 2016
Madame Prime Minister,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Honored guests, dear friends and family, particularly my son, who’s here from London…
Welcome…..bienvenue …..Je suis ravie de vous recevoir ce soir.
It’s a pleasure and an honor for me, and for my friend and co-host Ambassador Crystal Nix-Hines, to welcome you to this annual celebration of July 4th, America’s Independence Day.
We especially want to thank our generous sponsors who have made this magical night possible, and who have helped make my little pied-a-terre here in the heart of Paris look so spectacular.
Once again, the amazing team at Disney has prepared a truly dazzling sound and light show for later in the evening.
And our special guest tonight, is the extraordinary and luminous Carole King.
She is, in the words of one of her songs, “some kind of wonderful.”
Her music has provided the soundtrack to so many of our lives from the late 1950s right up until today.
She is truly an American national treasure and we are so proud to be able to share her with France tonight.
And speaking of national treasures, I am thrilled to announce that we have on temporary display in the Residence a first edition — from 1781 — of documents that served as the blueprint for the U.S. Constitution… I hope you get a chance to view it this evening.
But tonight we celebrate the historical milestone that set the stage for our Constitution: our Declaration of Independence, signed 240 years ago in 1776.
Indeed, several of our Founding Fathers and signers of this momentous document represented our young nation here in France.
I am humbled and honored to follow in their footsteps. Perhaps most notably, Thomas Jefferson, who drafted the Declaration of Independence and represented the United States in France from 1785 to 1789.
To me, the most important and timeless words in Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence are: “All men are created equal.”
It is this same principle that France fought for during its own revolution.
Fittingly, Jefferson was in Paris July 14, 1789 and witnessed the events of that day and the fall of the Bastille.
The goals that the American Revolution and the French Revolution fought for two centuries ago: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and liberté, egalité, fraternité are still the goals our nations share. And the challenges we face today are no less than those faced by the individuals who penned those words.
In the year since we met here last July, our shared principles of freedom and equality have been attacked. Our resolve has been tested but not overcome.
The barbaric attacks in Paris last November appalled the civilized world, but also brought us closer together.
As President Obama said on that terrible night, “France is our oldest ally. The French people have stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States time and again. We want to be very clear that we stand together with them in the fight against terrorism and extremism.”
Obama, our 44th president, was echoing the sentiments of George Washington, our first president, who considered France the “anchor of America and its friendship as a first object.”
Over two centuries later, the alliance between America and France is still that important and that close some would say now more than ever.
Just two weeks ago, this friendship was proven yet again when the French people and government came together to offer their solidarity and support for the United States after the horrific act of terror and hatred in Orlando. I was personally moved that so many of our French friends led by President Hollande and Prime Minister Valls came to the Embassy to sign our condolence book and express their sympathy.
But as our two countries have been tested, we have also shown our resolve. President Obama and President Hollande — and our governments at every level — continue to work hand-in-hand to fight the scourge of terrorism and to promote peace, equality, and tolerance throughout the world.
A few weeks ago, on June 6th, I was at Port-en-Bessin for the D-Day ceremonies, marking the beginning of the liberation of France and Europe. I met with D-Day veterans, who recalled fighting alongside the allies as if they were defending their own families their own country their own freedom their own way of life – and indeed, they were!
It is my strong belief that together, now as then the forces of light and liberty will prevail over the forces of darkness and destruction. Last August, an attempted attack on a Thalys train bound for Paris was thwarted by the remarkable courage of multiple passengers including French-American Mark Moogalian, who we are so honored to have here with us tonight, and British Citizen Chris Norman as well as three young Americans.
These three young men, friends since grade school, were on a holiday in Europe. As a result of their heroism, they were awarded the Legion of Honor by President Hollande. He told them, “Confronting the evil that is terrorism, there is a good — the good of humanity. That is what you embody.” I’m thrilled that those three Thalys heroes — Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler — are here with us tonight.
Faced with violence and terror only meters away it was a simple but brave “let’s go” that catalyzed them to action that day. As I said then, they make America proud and I know how touched they are to be back in Paris, where they were so warmly embraced and welcomed by the government and the people of France.
If the last year has seen great tragedy, it has also seen great achievement and great hope.
Little more than two weeks after the November 13 terrorist attacks, France gathered the nations of the world in Paris to achieve an historic victory in the fight against global warming. And I am honored to have here with us again tonight Secretary Ernest Moniz… who played a key role in our COP-21 efforts. President Obama rightly characterized this climate achievement as: “an act of defiance that proves nothing will deter us from building the future we want for our children.”
It was a chance, he said, to “show the world what is possible when we come together united by a common effort and a common purpose.” Around the world, France and the United States are working side-by-side, united by common effort and common purpose, for the cause of peace and justice: in Syria… in Iraq… in Ukraine.
The brave men and women of both our armed forces are rolling back ISIL. And the United States is proud to support France as it fights terrorism in Africa. As we celebrate here tonight, let us remember the sacrifices of these men and women in uniform and our diplomats all around the world who are working diligently for peace and freedom.
Because as we all know, and as I said in Normandy at the D-Day commemorations, freedom isn’t free. So on this special day for my country, I want to say to all my French friends: You stood by us when our nation was being born and we were too weak to survive alone.
We stood by you during two world wars when you were beleaguered and hard-pressed.
And still today in 2016, America and France stand together strong and united in values and friendship determined that everyone should enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness resolute against the enemies of liberty, equality, and brotherhood determined in the present as in the past.
To any who would be so foolish to think that we would fail freedom now. I say plainly and proudly:
We will not fail.
We will be together.
And we will prevail confident and hopeful for the future.
Vive la France and God bless the United States of America.
Happy 4th of July a tous!
And tonight, as I mentioned, we have a very special treat in store!
It is my distinct honor to welcome to the stage a living legend, Carole King./
Since writing her first number one hit – “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” – which she wrote at the age of 17 Carole has become the most celebrated singer/songwriter of all time. More than 1,000 artists have recorded her songs – artists including Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, James Taylor, the Shirells, The Chiffons, The Drifters, and the Everley Brothers.
With unforgettable hits such as “You Make me Feel like a Natural Woman;”
“I Feel the Earth Move;”
“You’ve Got a Friend;”
“The Locomotion;” and many more, Carole’s songs are literally the soundtrack of our lives for the past 50 years.
Her album “Tapestry” sold over 25 million copies and was the top-selling album by a female artist for over a quarter century.
She’s written over 100 top hit singles.
Carole has a treasure trove of awards and accolades – too many to mention – but she was recently honored by both President Obama and Secretary John Kerry at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors.
With that, it is my great pleasure to introduce the one-and-only Carole King!