A Salute to America
(As Prepared for Delivery)
On July 4, 1776, America’s Founding Fathers adopted the Declaration of Independence which would transform 13 English colonies into one United States of America. You have just heard those stirring words that established the foundation of American values:
That all are created equal
That all are endowed with unalienable rights including Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
Just seven years later, our Constitution, the oldest written constitution still in use today, was signed. But, as has been true for all 243 years of our nation, we haven’t always gotten it exactly right immediately.
The best known part of our Constitution is the first ten changes we made to it – the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights guarantees individual rights such as freedom of speech, press, and religion. And it constrains government powers, ensuring due process of law.
These are the standards we strive to achieve for ourselves. And the standards we are proud to support our partners to achieve for themselves. This is what friends do.
Over five decades, the United States and Kenya have remained friends and partners through a changing world precisely because we share the same values.
We are both democracies. We believe that government power can only come from the choice of the people.
We believe in freedom of speech – to express our ideas, to gather freely and to protest without fear of reprisal.
We believe in freedom of the press. A free and unbiased press ensures a citizenry that has the information it needs to leverage its power well.
We believe in freedom of religion. All people must have the right to worship as they please without restriction or favor from the government.
These shared values are what make the United States and Kenya the best partners. They allow us to work hand in hand and to ensure Americans and Kenyans benefit from peace, prosperity, and health. We will both make mistakes at times but we will learn from those mistakes and grow stronger. These shared values are what make our nations great.
For as Kenya goes, so goes East Africa and as East Africa goes, so goes the continent.
On this, the 243rd birthday of the United States, we salute America’s founders and the values they enshrined. And we are proud to celebrate with Kenya, the shining star of Africa, and with the Kenyan people who embody those very same values.