We Are Here to Celebrate an Event That Changed the World Forever. On This Date, 235 Years Ago, America's Founding Fathers Issued a Declaration of Independence in My Native City of Philadelphia. This Declaration of Independence Was Based On the Revolutionary Principles That All Men Are Created Equal - That Governments Are Chosen By the People - and That Governments Serve the People. These American Concepts - - That All Men Possess Fundamental Rights, Such As Liberty and Equality Under the Law - Were Radical Ideas in the 18th Century. These Ideas Still Have Relevance and Resonance Today As People in Many Countries Struggle for Basic Rights and Freedom.
America's experience demonstrates that fulfilling these noble principles and ideals is not easy. Despite the American declaration that all men are created equal, our Constitution sanctioned slavery, a system that violated our most fundamental beliefs and values. As a result of this contradiction between our principles and practices, we fought a brutal and bloody civil war that finally ended slavery nearly one hundred years after our declaration of independence.
Even today, Americans recognize that democracy is a process that requires constant vigilance as well as humility. We are proud to have an African American president, but we know that we still must fight against racism. We are proud to have great natural and human resources, but we know that we still must struggle against poverty. We are proud to assist other countries in their fight for freedom, but we know that we cannot take our own freedom for granted. Above all, we know that every country must choose its own path to freedom and democracy.
Looking at Angola's path to independence and democracy, I am proud that American missionaries played an important role in providing the schools where many leaders of Angola's independence movement studied. American missionaries shared not only their religious beliefs but also their democratic values with the Angolan people. In recent years, American NGOs have played an important role working with Angolan civil society, the National Assembly and the Government. At the same time, American companies have worked closely with their Angolan partners in developing projects in health, education and agriculture that have improved the lives of the Angolan people.
I have long admired and respected the Angolan people for their resilience and courage. It is therefore an honor for me to serve as the American Ambassador to Angola at this important moment in the country's history. The strategic partnership between Angola and the United States reflects converging interests in many areas, including a mutual desire to strengthen our democratic systems. This partnership was built on the strong people-to-people ties between our countries. I am committed to deepening these ties between our peoples as well as between our governments.
In closing, I would like to thank the American companies that provided generous support for tonight's event. This support reflects the desire of American companies to strengthen their own links with the Angolan people. Finally, in the name of President Barack Obama, I would like to offer a toast to President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and the people of our two nations, on this special day.
Once again, many thanks for your presence tonight.