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Wed, Jul 04, 2001 - Page 18 News List

AIT Director strengthens bilateral relationship

TIME OF CELEBRATION The Fourth of July is a time of celebration for all Americans, and it this event is especially dear to our countrymen living abroad

By Raymond F. Burghardt  /  DIRECTOR, AMERICAN INSTITUTE IN TAIWAN

I am happy to extend Indepen-dence Day greetings to our friends in the American community of Taiwan on the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The Fourth of July is a time of celebration for all Americans, and it is especially dear to those of us living abroad.

In the summer of 1776, delegates from the thirteen British colonies in North America gathered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to discuss a bold proposition -- the creation of a new nation. On July 4, 1776, those assembled there voted to approve the Declaration of Independence, and that date has since been regarded as the official birthday of the United States of America.

Last weekend the American Chambers of Commerce in Taipei and Kaohsiung got together with Taipei American School to again host terrific, traditional American Fourth of July celebrations. The American Institute in Taiwan, on behalf of the American community is grateful for the leadership of the American Chambers of Commerce for all the hard work, energy and resources that were part of the festivals.

All of us at the American Institute in Taiwan today wish to express our very best wishes to the American community for a happy Fourth of July. We would like to acknowledge our appreciation for the support and friendship of our Taiwan friends and neighbors. The people of the US and the people of Taiwan are bound by close friendships, strong commercial and cultural ties, as well as the shared values of democracy, family and prosperity.

"Government of the people, by the people, for the people" -- this is the great mantra of democracy first stated by President Abraham Lincoln in his famous Gettysburg address. It has become the rallying force for democracy throughout the world. Another renowned observer of American democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville, earlier in the nineteenth century in the US noted, "It is evident to all alike that a great democratic revolution is going on among us, but all do not look at it in the same light. To some it appears to be novel but accidental, and, as such, they hope it may still be checked; to others it seems irresistible, because it is the most uniform, the most ancient, and the most permanent tendency that is to be found in history." De Tocqueville's words are as appropriate in the 21st century as they were in the 1800s. Today we see democratic systems of government being built all around the world -- nowhere more prominently than in Taiwan. We salute Taiwan's embrace of this 'irresistible' democracy. Democracy is a living system which demands constant vigilance and participation -- not a passive conception of what might be. The people of Taiwan over the past few years have shown their commitment to establishing and maintaining a democratic system of government which will support prosperity and stability into the new century.

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, and third president of the US, is revered as one of the forefathers of our great nation. On the 50th anniversary of Independence Day, he reminded all Americans to celebrate democracy as we celebrate the Fourth of July: "Self-government ... restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion ... Let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them." I would like to paraphrase from President Jefferson's own exhortations in praise of democracy: Let us then, with courage and confidence, pursue our own principles, our attachment to representative government.

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