Good evening. Welcome to our celebration of America’s 243rd Independence Day. On behalf of all of us at the U.S. Mission to India, we thank you for joining us this evening.
Now, you may ask, why are we celebrating July 4th on June 6th. Well, the real answer is simply that it is more practical to do so. During July, we have a large turnover of personnel at the Embassy, the monsoon season is in full force, and we feel that more people are out of town. We also have our Secretary of State visiting New Delhi later this month, which will absorb much of our time and attention prior to July 4. So holding our Independence Celebration today – June 6 – just made more sense.
This day also marks a very important date in American history. Seventy-five years ago – June 6, 1944 – was D-Day, the date that U.S. and Allied soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy and prevailed in one of the most pivotal battles in history. That victory came less than 48 hours after Allied forces had liberated Rome, which was a pivotal moment in the difficult Italian campaign. You may not know this, but among the soldiers fighting for freedom in Italy were roughly 50,000 brave Indian troops. They battled alongside U.S. forces. Unfortunately, about one in ten of those Indian troops would make the ultimate sacrifice.
This D-Day story offers a compelling example of how the histories of the United States and India are intertwined. A nation’s Independence Day is an ideal time to reflect on the values that make our two countries great, and the sacrifices our people have made over the years to preserve those values. Americans were honored to stand with Indians 75 years ago to uphold freedom, and the United States is honored to stand with India today in reaffirming our commitment to free and democratic societies.
The U.S.-India partnership is durable and effective because it is based on a foundation of the common values our societies cherish – individual liberty, free enterprise, open societies, human rights, and the rule of law. Belief in these ideals led hundreds of millions of Indians to make their voices heard recently in the largest democratic exercise in history. We congratulate Prime Minister Modi, his new cabinet of ministers, and all of the newly-elected parliamentarians, and wish them the very best as they take up their positions. We look forward to continuing our close collaboration with the Government of India in support of our values and our ideals, and to strengthen our relationship.
We at the U.S. Embassy and our four Consulates – and we are pleased that our Consuls General are in town tonight to celebrate with us – also look forward to working with all of our non-governmental partners – companies, non-profit organizations, think tanks, educational and cultural institutions, and all of you in this room – to continue building our strategic partnership. And speaking of partners, let me say a big thank you to our sponsors of this evening’s celebration. You will see their logos on the screens throughout the room. We really appreciate your support.
Thanks again to all of you for coming tonight to help us celebrate America’s 243rd Independence Day. And thank you, most importantly, for your friendship.
Please enjoy the rest of the evening.