US Amb. Extols Shared US-Liberia Heritage -Says “2022 is Special Year for Us”

The United States Ambassador to Liberia Michael McCarthy has extolled the special shared heritage and history existing between the United States of America and Liberia over the years, highlighting the significance of Liberia’s independence which he said being the first independent country in Africa, represented something new and hopeful, just as America, from which it sprang represented something new and hopeful on the American Continent, adding that the year 2022 marks a special era wherein the two countries are celebrating three important and historical events.

Speaking during the observance of Liberia’s 175th independence day celebration and presentation of a special plaque to commemorate the day, Ambassador McCarthy said the occasion was taking place at a time when democratic norms are eroding around the world but such challenges also represent opportunities, adding that 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.

“Like America, Liberia was conceived in liberty. And like America, Liberia struggled to make that equality of all men a reality. 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.

“175 years ago, in 1847, Liberia declared itself an independent republic, no longer part of the American Colonization Society.  Fifteen years later, at Abraham Lincoln’s request, The United States Congress established diplomatic relations with Liberia.

“In that sense 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”, the Ambassador said.

Referring to Minister Mawinie Diggs’s statement in her national oration, “what you say DOES matter and what you do DOES make a difference” the tough talking Ambassador commended Liberia’s stand against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine saying a deep understanding of those ideals in the foundation of Liberia have inspired Liberia’s courageous stand against Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified barbaric attack on The Ukraine.  He said Liberia’s civil war experience left an unshakable appreciation for human rights, which feeds Liberia’s consistent stands against oppression around the globe.

McCarthy said In honor of the three occasions, the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, has dedicated 2022 t to acknowledge and celebrate these historic milestones and listed them beginning with January’s celebrations on Providence Island that marked the opening of the commemorations, in February, a Presidential Delegation sent by President Biden led by National Security Council Director for Africa Dana Banks, who attended the Bicentennial Commemoration at Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium, the enthusiastic participation of the Chairman of the United States House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Chair and several members of the United States Congressional Black Caucus and that the Congressional delegation visited Providence Island and had the privilege of viewing the originals of the Liberian constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Continuing he said the Americans have also witnessed several historic achievements, saying with prompting from the US Embassy in Monrovia, this year for the first time, the U.S. State Department bestowed the coveted International Women of Courage Award on a Liberian, Facia Harris, for her outstanding contributions to women’s empowerment.  He also mentioned another Liberian, Judge Cornelius Wennah who some time ago personally received a Trafficking in persons Report Hero Award from the U.S. Secretary of State.

“In addition, this year the U.S. Embassy and the National Library of Liberia signed an MOU that will see the establishment of an American Shelf at the former J.J. Roberts Executive Mansion on Ashmun Street.

“In July, we brought the U.S. Navy Topside Band to join the University of Liberia Band, the Armed Forces of Liberia Band, the Salvation Army Band, and Juli Endee & the Crusaders for a musical extravaganza that delighted many, highlighting our shared and distinct musical traditions.

“Mr. President, President Joseph Biden would be honored if you would accept his invitation to the U.S. – Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC this December to wrap up this fantastic year”, he said.

Going further to underscore the importance of the relationship between the two countries, McCarthy said the United States of America has always been a proud partner and supporter of the Liberian people almost as if Liberia’s successes are theirs, adding that in fact 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.

He said in addition, on that same anniversary, on the steps of the United States Capitol, the U.S. Government unveiled the gift of a bronze plaque honoring the Government of Liberia and gave a description of the award that 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.

“We, citizens of the United States, cherish the unique historical ties existing between our nation and Liberia, and in the name of ‘our common Creator and common Judge’ commend for Liberia the spirit of freedom, ‘sympathy and friendly consideration’ as a principle of peace which all members of the world family of nations should share, and we, On this 26th day of July, 1947, duly represented and assembled in Washington, the capital city of the United States of America, extend to Liberia our congratulations and warmest sentiments on its centenary of statehood” , McCarthy quoted the wordings written on the plaque.

The outspoken top diplomat said unfortunately, the plaque was a casualty of the terrible civil war years and could not be found anywhere around but as a sign of the unwavering friendship, and as a result of historical research at the Embassy, “I am proud to announce that today we present to the Government of Liberia a recreation of that SAME plaque, by renowned Liberian artist, Leslie Lumeh, to commemorate Liberia’s 175th anniversary of independence!”, he said.

“Mr. President, it is a great honor to present you with this replica of the historic plaque.  May you enjoy it through many years of peace and tranquility”, he concluded while presenting the plaque to President Weah amid cheers from the audience.

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