July 4th is usually a time of celebration in the United States, and although we are certainly proud of our 244 years of independence, this year we must acknowledge that 2020 has presented us all with profound challenges: a global pandemic that has taken the lives of so many in the United States, Sweden, and around the world, as well as the resulting worldwide economic downturn and widespread unemployment. In the United States, we also saw tragic deaths at the hands of police that have triggered mass protests and long overdue discussions about equality, justice, and reform across continents, including Europe.
Many of the things that typically give us comfort during hard times, including human contact, have been difficult over the past few months. Yet, we endure. The United States has faced many challenges in its past, but it has prevailed and come out stronger on the other side. Americans do not shy away from challenges. It often takes time for change to happen, but history shows that Americans come together and find ways to make the future better than the past.
At some point this pandemic will lose its potency and a vaccine or treatment will be found. We will discover new ways to rebuild our livelihoods and our economies. And perhaps most importantly, we will renew and strengthen our democratic institutions and societies. With the help of friends and partners like Sweden, we will make tomorrow better than today, not just for the United States and Sweden, but for the world.
As President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said: “We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.”
I believe he was right and, although we may have to celebrate this July 4th a little differently than we usually do, the spirit of that day in 1776 continues on nearly two and a half centuries later.
I want to wish everyone a very happy Independence Day and hope that you all stay well, however you may celebrate this day. Stay strong, stay safe, and a very happy summer to you all!