Remarks by Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt at the240th Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America

AMBASSADOR GALT: Foreign Minister Purevsuren, distinguished guests, and friends of the United States and Mongolia, welcome to this evening’s celebration of the 240th anniversary of the independence of the United States of America.

Та бүхэн тавтай морилон саатна уу.

Two hundred and forty years ago, America’s founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and declared a people’s sovereign right to govern themselves.

Out of this bold declaration, the United States of America was born, founded on the principle of individual dignity, united in the common cause of liberty, and motivated by the prospect of a free and prosperous future.

It is that spirit of independence and freedom that we celebrate tonight.

President Obama has often described “America’s improbable experiment in democracy” as continuous progress toward “a more perfect union.”

We Americans view democracy as a journey, not a destination; a road that we are honored to travel with Mongolia and other democracies, new and old, around the world.

We believe that democracy is worth fighting for and worth preserving, especially in a rambunctious election year as this has been, both in the United States and Mongolia.

I would like to congratulate the Government and people of Mongolia on your 14th orderly transition of power in 26 years as a democracy.

I would also like to congratulate all the newly elected members of the Mongolian Parliament.

The United States looks forward to working with the new government.

As elections attest, the foundation of any democracy is the will and actions of its people.

And it is the actions of millions of people in our two countries that I would like to focus on this evening – the indomitable spirit of volunteerism – of giving back to one’s country.

As Americans, we do not expect our government to do everything for us – we expect to help ourselves and each other, especially those less fortunate and those in need.

In the United States, volunteerism is an everyday phenomenon – people volunteer their time to clean up parks, to build homes for the homeless, to host exchange students from abroad, and to serve in religious organizations that provide a wide range of social services – all in an effort to make America a stronger, “more perfect union.”

I am proud that this same volunteer spirit is very much in evidence here in Mongolia in the form of our 120+ Peace Corps volunteers serving in every aimag across this beautiful country, teaching English, working in public health, and helping to empower young people.

This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the arrival of the first Peace Corps volunteers in Mongolia.

Just last month, Secretary of State John Kerry met here with a group of current and former Peace Corps volunteers, expressing gratitude for their “remarkable service” helping to build the “bonds of friendship between our countries.”

I am pleased the spirit of volunteerism has been ignited all across Mongolia.

One of the sparks for this remarkable development is the incredibly engaged and dynamic network of over 1,500 Mongolian alumni of U.S. Government exchange programs.

Our alumni mentor graduates of the English Access micro-scholarship program, advise students who wish to study in the U.S., and counsel disadvantaged youth.

This spirit of volunteerism also pervades the U.S. Embassy – my colleagues have planted trees and collected trash along the Tuul river and our Marine Security Guards collect toys to donate to underprivileged children.

As President Obama has said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.  We are the change that we seek.”

Volunteerism – giving of yourself to others – is a responsibility we all share.

I encourage everyone here tonight to consider ways you can contribute to your community.

Time has truly flown during my first year in Mongolia.

My team and I have been hard at work promoting economic prosperity and helping Mongolia diversify its economy –

Just last month I hosted a U.S. trade delegation to explore the potential for private sector engagement in agriculture.

We continue to urge the Government of Mongolia to implement our Transparency Agreement at the earliest possible date as an important step to attract U.S. and other foreign investment.

And the Millennium Challenge Corporation is developing a second compact with the Mongolian Government.

My team and I are also working to support Mongolia’s democratic development and institutions –

We’re working closely with Mongolia on the UN Human Rights Council.

We continue to support mutually beneficial exchange programs and work to combat domestic violence and trafficking in persons.

In May, we hosted an eight-member U.S. Congressional delegation from the House Democracy Partnership who discussed potential cooperation with counterparts in the Mongolian parliament.

And we hosted Secretary Kerry on his first visit to Mongolia, when he announced a new $2.5 million program that will help build Mongolia’s next generation of democratic leaders by connecting young leaders with their counterparts in the United States and selected countries across Asia.

And finally, my team and I are working to further strengthen our robust military partnership –

In May, I joined Admiral Harris, Commander, United States Pacific Command, for the opening of this year’s Khaan Quest multilateral peacekeeping exercise, which was the largest ever, with more than 40 countries participating or observing.

Before I close, I would like to say thank you.

First, to our generous donors, whose support helped make this evening’s celebration possible.

Next, to the many members of my Embassy team who will be leaving this summer.

Each of them has achieved great things individually, and as a team they have made enormous contributions toward advancing the U.S.-Mongolia relationship.

I wish them all the best as they move on to bigger and better things.

A special thank you as well to all the officers and staff who worked to organize tonight’s event, and Henry Fung, our talented MC.

And finally, a round of applause for the fabulous U.S. 8th Army Alliance Brass Band.

Thank you, everyone, for coming this evening – please enjoy the festivities.

Happy Birthday America!

Та бүхэнд баярын мэнд дэвшүүлье.