Ambassador Culvahouse Speech: Independence Day 2019 – Canberra, Australia

July 2, 2019 07:45 pm – Questacon, Canberra

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It is my distinct honor and privilege to welcome you tonight.

I would like to acknowledge especially

  • Ms. Pamela O’Grady, Acting Chief of Protocol;
  • Dr. Meghan Clark, Head of the Australian Space Agency
  • Mr. Badri Younes (BAH-dree YEW-ness), Deputy Administrator for Space Communications and Navigation at NASA
  • Distinguished Guests
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for joining us in celebrating two hundred and forty three years of American Independence.

From the beginning, the United States has valued the friends, allies, and partners who time and again have proven crucial not to growing our collective security and prosperity, and in forging a more secure and prosperous world for all seeking a fair go and who play by the rules.

Over the past century, no friendship has mattered more to the United States than that of Australia.

Working together, we have met every challenge thrown at us.

Together, we have extended peace and opportunity throughout the Indo-Pacific region and the world.

And I have every confidence that together we will successfully overcome future hurdles to achieve a bright future for Australians, Americans, and our friends and partners everywhere.

In my first 100 days, I have visited all six Australian states and two territories.

What struck me most is how dearly we both hold the values that unite us:

  • from our passionate practice and defense of liberal democracy,
  • to our unwavering commitment to the rule of law;
  • from our core belief that hard work and a fair go will achieve a better tomorrow,
  • to holding our commitment to our friends and allies as unbreakable;
  • and especially, when the going gets tough, when things are darkest before the dawn, you stand firmly by those you know best in the world, those who have repeatedly proven themselves over the years, decades, and centuries.

In speaking with Australians from all walks of life, I come away even more convinced of the power and potential of our great relationship.

Let me state plainly for all here tonight:

Australia has no greater friend than the United States.

The truly impressive things we have accomplished together in the past, point us towards the even greater feats we will achieve together in the future.

This month, we celebrate the pinnacle of human accomplishment, the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Mission and the first humans to walk on the surface of the moon.

People would not have seen it happen without the essential cooperation between Australia and the United States.

Thanks to the technology at the Honeysuckle Creek tracking station and Parkes radio telescope, Australian trackers overcame last-minute setbacks to show the world the image of Neil Armstrong descending from the lunar capsule and taking his “giant leap for mankind.”

As a result of the Australian-American partnership, some 600 million people around the world watched in awe.

Everyone who saw it take place has their own personal connection to it.

Mine was enhanced on my last full day as White House Counsel to President Ronald Reagan.

On a cold January 19th in 1989, President Reagan hosted a luncheon at the White House attended by all living Medal of Freedom recipients.

As White House Counsel, I had the distinct honor to meet Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin that day.

Meeting these living legends impressed me greatly and inspires me to this day.

Indeed, their example continues to inspire us to reach for the moon and the universe beyond.

Buzz Aldrin himself put it best:

“Let me say, as I sit here before you today having walked on the Moon, that I am myself still awed by that miracle.

“That awe, in me and in each of us . . . must be the engine of future achievement, not a slow dimming light from a time once bright.”

I am also reminded of what Neil Armstrong’s family said after his passing:

“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request.

“Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

Let me close here tonight with a similar message.

All of us here today have a vital role to play in our vision for this next century.

We need all our active engagement across your country and mine

  • to broaden and deepen our already broad and deep economic ties;
  • to expand opportunities in both our countries and the Indo-Pacific region for a more prosperous tomorrow; and
  • to inspire the next generation of Australians and Americans to achieve similar impressive feats in the future, achievable precisely because they require the drive, innovation, and ingenuity that we can only realize together.

God bless Australia, and God bless the United States of America.

Thank you.

It is now my distinct pleasure to invite one of our guests of honor, Badri Younes (BAH-dree YEW-ness), NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Communications and Navigation, to say a few words.

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