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July 4, 2023

Remarks by Ambassador Donnelly at the Independence Day 2023

Friday, June 23 2023 

As prepared


Your Eminences, your Excellencies, distinguished guests, and friends – good evening!  Thank you for joining us at Villa Richardson to celebrate the 247th birthday of the United States of America.

And a huge thank you to my wonderful Embassy team, the caterers, the generous American companies who contributed so much to this party, and this fantastic Navy band.

I feel tremendously blessed to be here with you tonight, to celebrate the United States and our strong partnership with the Holy See.

The anniversary of the independence of our nation is deeply meaningful.  Our founders created something new – a country founded on the self-evident truth that all people are created equal and endowed with unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.  That’s the moral compass we strive to follow every day, as we work toward a more free and peaceful world.

This is a unique time in history.  The United States is our country and we love it with all our hearts.  But the United States is much more.  It is an idea.  It is the belief that all people, everywhere, are created equal.  We stand for this idea, and for dignity and freedom for all.

We are a nation of immigrants.  Every American here today, every one of you out there, came from a globe full of countries and hometowns.  And as Americans, no matter your hometown, the places you are from, we are in this together.

America has a special history.  We were a group of individuals who were united by common ideals and values.  No one thought we had a chance in the 1700s when we fought for our freedom and won.

In the 1860s, there was a terrible civil war.  We fought because we wanted every one of our brothers and sisters to have freedom.

In World War One and World War Two we traveled across the ocean because we stood with friends who were under attack.  We protected the very ideals of freedom, dignity, and sovereignty that were at risk.  We stood with countries and friends who had been there for us when we fought for our freedom.

In my office at the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican, I keep a flag from my Uncle George.  He had never left Brooklyn, but in WWI he found himself going from island to island in the Pacific.  He fought and sacrificed, just like countless men and women in service who have done the same.  He returned to us with a broken body, and remained almost completely deaf for the rest of his life.  He told us the day he was wounded was the best day of his life, because he got to defend the United States of America.

Like my Uncle George, I am so proud to serve my country and defend and promote our values.  The Vatican and Pope Francis stand up for the least, the lost, and the last.  The way I see our country is that we stand up for the same.

Today we stand with brothers and sisters in Ukraine, as so many of you do.  It’s a hot night, and the fans you are holding were made in Ukraine.  They are a symbol of our friendship and solidarity with the Ukrainian people.  We stand side by side against Putin’s unjustified and unprovoked war of aggression.  We stand with partners and allies to defend human dignity and sovereignty.  We want to make sure that Ukrainian children can have their homes and dreams come true.

The United States, along with our partners – both in Europe, in Asia, the Global South, and all around the globe, must continue to aid the Ukrainian people in their fight.  Together, we support their endeavor to achieve victory, attain a durable, JUST peace, and secure the dream of a free and democratic future for their country.

The Fourth of July is a day for celebrating those values and rededicating ourselves to them.  That’s the promise the United States has represented to the world since July 4, 1776.  We continue to do that today.

And now, I’d like to introduce a very special VIP speaker from the Vatican.  She is the highest ranking woman in the world’s smallest state:  Sister Raffaela Petrini.  She serves as the Secretary General of the Governorate of Vatican City State, appointed by Pope Francis on November 4, 2021.  Sister Petrini professed her perpetual vows in the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist in 2007.  We are honored to hear from the Secretary General here tonight.

[Sister Petrini’s remarks]

Thank you so much Sister Petrini. We are grateful for your friendship, and that of the Holy See.  Tonight, let’s raise a glass to honor our friendships and partnerships….and the lasting, inspirational ideals of human rights and freedom for all.  God bless America!