U.S. National Day Remarks

U.S. National Day Remarks, Ambassador Jonathan Pratt
January 31, 2023


Excellence le Ministre des Affaires Etrangères,
Excellence Mesdames et Messieurs les ministres,
Messieurs et Mesdames les représentants du gouvernement de Djibouti, Excellence les ambassadeurs
Chers généraux,
Invités de marque et amis, soyez les bienvenus chez moi pour la célébration de la fête nationale américaine.

Je voudrais commencer par remercier la République de Djibouti et son Excellence le Président Ismail Omar Guelleh pour de nombreuses années de partenariat solide avec les États-Unis. Merci d’accueillir notre base militaire, merci pour nos efforts conjoints pour la paix et la sécurité dans la région, et merci pour votre amitié envers moi et mes collègues depuis de nombreuses années.  La solidité de notre partenariat se reflète dans les nombreuses activités que nous menons au profit de tous les Djiboutiens.  Cela inclut les activités entre nos deux armées pour améliorer leur collaboration, l’appui à la santé, à l’éducation et à la société civile avec des projets de l’USAID, et les opportunités que nous proposons aux Djiboutiens pour participer dans les programmes d’échanges aux États-Unis.  Cette année, nous avons eu l’honneur d’inviter les dirigeants africains au Sommet États-Unis-Afrique, y compris le Président Guelleh, à Washington, pour approfondir notre partenariat avec Djibouti et d’autres membres de l’Union Africaine.

Permettez-moi de prononcer le reste du discours en anglais.

Welcome all, and I’d like to express my great appreciation for your presence here this evening.  We are honored to have you join us for our first national day celebration in Djibouti in over three years.  COVID was a monumental and tragic set-back for all of us on many levels—and certainly made the work of diplomacy much more complicated.  It is wonderful to be back together again.  I also want to thank our partners and sponsors for this evening’s celebration – Sheraton, Coubeche, Chebatco, and Valiant.  And all the volunteers of the Embassy and Camp Lemonnier who have organized this celebration. Thank you.

We are celebrating the American national day TODAY, not only because it is cooler in January than it is on the 4th of July, but also because this day falls between Martin Luther King Day and President’s Day, two days which celebrate leadership in the United States.  You may have wondered about the theme for this evening’s event:  Diversity: an American Value and Strength.  Martin Luther King Jr. advanced civil rights for many marginalized citizens in the United States and laid the groundwork for the focus on diversity and inclusion that continues today.  As Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said, we are operating in a diverse world, and America’s diversity is a source of strength that few countries can match.

The families of U.S. citizens come from all over the world, and this fact is reflected in our leaders.   You can see this in the family heritage of former President Barak Obama who has roots in Kenya; and former Secretary Colin Powell who has roots in Jamaica: And even one of our best known and well-remembered Ambassadors here in Djibouti, Don Yamamoto, with roots in Japan and Geeta Pasi, with Indian roots.  Given the growing number of people in the United States from the Horn of Africa, I ask you, how far away is the day when we will see a Djiboutian-American return to Djibouti as the American Ambassador?  I think that day will be sooner than we think.

Living in diverse communities is also something we share with Djiboutians.  Perhaps we are so comfortable in Djibouti because you have different communities living together, there is a diversity of languages, and you welcome refugees from other countries and include them in your schools and communities.  So this is a good moment to recognize and celebrate Djibouti’s own diversity, and the ways Djiboutians welcome others.

Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for everyone to have a seat at the table.  Inclusion means that once seated, everyone will have a voice in the conversation taking place at that table.  We have a long way to go to ensure that diverse voices are part of the conversation, but we are all making progress.  I’d like to end my remarks where I started – by expressing my thanks to our Djiboutian colleagues for many years of partnership and friendship.  And to those of you who are here from the American mission and military base – from all of our diverse backgrounds –I’d like to say thank you for your service to our country, to our partnership with Djibouti, and to this critically important region.

I can’t think of a better place to celebrate this national day than here, side by side with our Djiboutian friends and partners.  Please enjoy the evening and thank you for coming.