Independence Day was celebrated in the United States on Sunday, July 4. And today, we are commemorating America’s 245th birthday here in Taiwan. In our observance of our Independence Day, we celebrate the birth of America as a nation with a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
While this is patriotic holiday, we do not celebrate it with the military pageantry of tanks, planes and troops. Instead, we celebrate it with family picnics, barbecues, fireworks and parades of high school bands and floats. We express our patriotism with displays of our national colors of red, white and blue, and focus on the democratic freedoms that allow us to spend time with our families, bond with our communities and celebrate our own cultural traditions.
When we think about July 4, many people imagine the classic meal of hot dogs, hamburgers, corn-on-the-cob and apple pie. But in fact, because of the diversity of the United States, Americans today are just as likely to enjoy Tex-Mex tacos, Hawaiian poke bowls, Korean fried chicken and Chinese fried rice and dumplings – and maybe even some bubble tea and mango shaved ice. This ability to meld together our diverse cultures, that includes enjoying our different food traditions, is part of what makes America strong.
President Harry Truman in 1947 said, “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand. As I reflect on those words today, after this difficult period of pandemic fears, political uncertainty and social upheaval – a period where we all heard the word “unprecedented” all too often – I still believe President Truman was right. And this “unbeatable determination” is an attribute that we see in Taiwan as well. As I have said before, Taiwan is “a society rich with history and innovation; unflinchingly bold yet admirably prudent; relentlessly ambitious and unceasingly generous.” As fellow democracies that share democratic values, the United States and Taiwan truly have a relationship that can be described as “Real Friends, Real Progress.”
My three years as AIT Director are coming to a close, so this will be my last July 4 celebration in Taiwan. Being AIT Director has been a pleasure and privilege and my experience has exceeded my expectations in every way. I have been very touched by the expressions of gratitude and friendship I have received in recent weeks, and I can assure you that Taiwan will forever have a place in my heart.