July 23, 2023
As prepared for delivery
Welcome to the celebration of the 247th Independence Day of the United States of America!
In the United States, our Independence Day celebrations are a combination of patriotic speeches and backyard BBQs, of military parades and fireworks, and of music that runs the gamut from the “Star-Spangled Banner” to “Born in the USA” to “Bad to the Bone.”
In short, we celebrate the principles upon which we were founded. And we have fun doing it. And that is what we are here to do tonight.
The preamble of our Declaration of Independence states:
“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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
And our Constitution begins with these words:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Standing here now, in 2023, I note these principles of equality and democracy don’t apply just to men, but also to women, and the whole diverse range of Americans, regardless of race, color, or creed.
Achieving these principles is a work in progress. A struggle to live up to our founding ideals.
The United States and Bangladesh share similar ideals that motivated our struggles for independence.
Almost two centuries after 1776, Bangladesh fought the Liberation War based on four similar principles: nationalism, socialism, democracy, and secularism.
These shared principles, and the success of our nations’ ability to continually “form a more perfect Union” are – and will be – the anchor of U.S.-Bangladesh relations.
But, as I said earlier, Independence Day is also about having fun!
And for me, that always meant having a backyard BBQ. With hot dogs and hamburgers, potato salad and potato chips. And loud music. One song that was always on my 4th of July playlist was “Bad to the Bone.”
As is often the case with music, it is not just the song you love, but the story behind the song that gets you. “Bad to the Bone” is the signature song of George Thorogood and the Destroyers.
In 1981, George Thorogood and his band embarked on an ambitious journey called the “50/50 Tour.” Their goal: to perform in all 50 states of the United States in just 50 days.
Beyond the sheer physical and mental endurance that tour required, what makes this story remarkable is that George Thorogood’s tour showcased the rich tapestry of cultures and backgrounds that make up the United States.
Not only did he travel to every corner of our country, but his music was a real reflection of the diversity of the United States, with its mix of Chicago and delta blues, hard rock, country, and other musical traditions from all around America.
Tonight, we have a special photo exhibition here at our National Day party that captures the spirit of George Thorogood’s tour, with a Bangladeshi twist.
This exhibition showcases Bangladeshis who have made their homes in many of the 50 states of America.
These photographs are a testament to the diversity that flourishes within our borders, where people from all walks of life, including Bangladeshis, have found a place to call home. U.S. National Day.
Through this exhibition, we witness the remarkable stories of Bangladeshis who have embraced the American dream, contributing their skills, culture, and heritage to the vibrant mosaic of our society.
Their presence all over the United States exemplifies the strength and resilience of the American people, a strength rooted in our shared values of liberty, justice, and equality.
To me, the story of Bangladeshis in the United States exemplifies something important: the strength of our democracy is in our people, and the strength of our people gets full expression in our democracy.
We believe those principles, the principles that define America, extend beyond our borders. And we also believe that those values with anchor U.S.-Bangladeshi ties, now and in the future.
Happy Independence Day!