On July, 1st the U.S. Consulate General celebrated the Independence Day. Acting Consul General Courtney Nemroff delivered a welcome speech:
“Welcome to the Consul General’s Residence and our annual Independence Day reception! Happy 4th of July!
Americans all around the world gather this time of year to celebrate our nation’s birth and recall the sacrifices of so many Americans for the cause of freedom. 239 years ago America’s forefathers adopted the Declaration of Independence and founded a new union of states based on the principle that all people are created equal and are endowed with the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Today’s Independence Day reception at the Consul General’s Residence is dedicated to Alaska – the largest state in the Union. Around the reception rooms you’ll see images Alaska. And we are particularly honored to have several proud Alaskan families here with us today, including the Consulate’s own Byrnes family. Alaska has a special role in connecting the American and Russian people.
Alaskans embrace their diverse heritage. Strong family and cultural ties link indigenous peoples on both sides of the border. There are 90 Russian Orthodox parishes in the state. The Anchorage School District is the nation’s first elementary public school to offer Russian language immersion program to its students. It’s a great example of how young Americans are preparing to establish future ties with neighboring Russia. Alaska is also very involved in events and projects associated with the U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council, including a special Fulbright program.
Governor of Alaska Bill Walker wrote to me this week to share his thoughts about the importance of continuing personal connections between Alaskans and Russians. Governor Walker writes:
“Alaskans and Russians have (also) established ten Sister City relationships over the years, and there are enduring ties from educational exchanges and programs….Friendships between Alaskans and Russians abound from the recent years of openness and exchange, and we look forward to continued positive interpersonal connections in the future.”
Today we were also especially honored to receive a letter from Governor of St. Petersburg Georgiy Poltavchenko, who, on behalf of the residents of St. Petersburg, expressed wishes for the well-being of the United States and its citizens
So I think that we can all agree, that by focusing on what we share in common and not on what divides us at certain times, we are able to see the enduring importance of relations between our two countries.
I’d like to wish all of you a very pleasant and enjoyable Independence Day. All of us here at the Consulate appreciate that you found time in your day to come help us celebrate our nation’s birthday. Please enjoy our hospitality and cuisine from the Great State of Alaska!”