United States Ambassador to Liberia, Michael McCarthy catalogs US-Liberia bonds here, noting that like America, Liberia was conceived in liberty, and like America, Liberia struggled to make equality of all men a reality.
He says from its inception on the African continent, Liberia represented something new and hopeful, just as America, from which it sprang, represented something new and hopeful on the American continent.
Speaking at the celebrations of Liberia 175th Independence on Tuesday, July 26, in Monrovia, he noted that this reality was captured in former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speech, the Gettysburg Address, delivered in November 1863, which begins with those now famous words “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
He says throughout the decades, we’ve seen both our countries progress in their struggle to embody these words and to become safe havens for all people.
He says throughout the decades, both countries have progressed in their struggle to embody these words spoken by President Lincoln and to become safe havens for all people.
“President Lincoln’s words serve as a reminder that democracy is a constant struggle toward a more perfect union”, he notes.
However, the U.S. Envoy notes that democracy is never a given, and it can never be taken for granted, adding “We have to remind ourselves that democracy is more than just a well-written constitution or norms and traditions, but it requires care and constant renewal, and leaders who understand that their actions and words matter in maintaining a democratic society.”
He also observes that Liberia commemorates 175th independence at a time when democratic norms are eroding around the world, but quickly adds such challenges also represent opportunities.
“Just as America continues to fight back in response to challenges to our democracy, Liberia continues to set an evolving example of democracy in Africa.”
Amb. McCarthy concurs with this year’s Independence Day Orator, Commerce Minister Diggs on Liberians denigrating their country on social media, acknowledging “what you say DOES matter and what you do DOES make a difference.”
He continues that a deep understanding of those ideals in the foundation of Liberia has inspired Liberia’s courageous stand against Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified barbaric attack on Ukraine, the country’s 14-year civil war experience left an unshakable appreciation for human rights, which feeds Liberia’s consistent stands against oppression around the globe.
Mr. McCarthy recalls that 175 years ago, in 1847, Liberia declared itself an independent republic, no longer part of the American Colonization Society, and that fifteen years later, at President Lincoln’s request, the United States Congress established diplomatic relations with Liberia.
“In that sense”, he explains, “Our two countries are commemorating three anniversaries this year: the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the first Black Americans to Liberia, the 175th anniversary of Liberia’s establishment as an independent republic, AND the 160th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries.”
He says in honor of these three occasions, the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, has dedicated 2022 to acknowledging and celebrating these historic milestones with Liberia which began with the official Bicentennial Celebrations in January on Providence Island followed by other festivities that were graced by U.S. Government official delegations from Washington, DC.
Amb. McCarthy also recalls that 75 years ago in 1947 the Centennial celebration of Liberia’s Independence featured the opening of the brand new $18,000,000 Port of Monrovia, paid for with U.S. Lend-Lease funds, and on that same anniversary, on the steps of the United States Capitol, the U.S. Government unveiled a bronze plaque honoring the Government of Liberia.
“At the center of the plaque were two hands stretching out from the continent of North America and the continent of Africa, hands clasped across the Atlantic Ocean”, he details, and presented a recreated version of the plaque which was destroyed the Liberian civil war, to President George Weah; writes Jonathan Browne