July 4 message from Chargé d'Affaires Joe Zadrozny 2023
text as written
Today marks the two hundred and forty seventh anniversary of the day when a group of thirteen tiny colonies in North America declared – no, demanded – independence from our Imperial rulers. The Declaration of Independence, adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, propelled us towards our destiny – fifty states unified under one constitution, one flag, and one vision.
Simply declaring independence did not make us free. Our colonial rulers were intent to keep us in place and sent the largest army on the planet to maintain control. General George Washington, leading a band of ill-equipped and untrained solders, lost battle after battle throughout the fall and winter of that year. It was only after seven years of warfare that we won our independence and became a nation.
What were we fighting for, and where have we come 247 years later? Our Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” We now come to understand that to mean that all people are created equal. The Declaration goes on to say that all people are, “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
After we fought and won our independence, we created a government consisting of leaders bound to serve the people, a Constitution that holds our government accountable, and a Bill of Rights that details the first ten rights that our new nation would protect, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, protections for citizens in courts, and a right to a free press.
Two hundred and forty-seven years later, that foundation of unalienable rights – rights which all people have simply by the virtue of being born – survives, thrives, and evolves as our understanding of humanity changes and the world faces new challenges.
Between 1914 and 1945, the world faced several wars, coming even to the shores of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. These conflicts, so massive and far-reaching, prompted the world community to extend and expand those unalienable rights to all people everywhere through the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Signed on December 10, 1948, it is the natural evolution of the rights our forefathers granted to Americans on July 4, 1776. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” The Declaration outlines the rights entitled to everyone, “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
And in 2023, our understanding of human rights continues to evolve. We now understand that health, justice, education, and a clean environment are all rights that belong to everyone. We believe that all people have the right health care, free of prejudice and bias. We believe that all people have the right to access a justice system that is fair and transparent. We believe that all people have the right to clean skies, clean seas, and forests forever.
The Constitution of Papua New Guinea protects and upholds these same rights, afforded all citizens irrespective of, “race, tribe, place of origin, political opinion, colour, creed, religion or sex.” We support Papua New Guinea as it realizes its national potential and works with the United States to protect the fundamental rights of life, liberty, security, participation in political activity, freedom from inhuman treatment and forced labor, freedom of conscience and expression, freedom of employment and movement, and the protection of property.
We join with the people of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu to protect these basic human rights and uphold dignity and respect for humanity. We look forward to joining our colleagues, partners, and guests, for our official Independence Day celebration at our new embassy compound this Friday. At our embassy you will see fifty flags representing the fifty states, highlighting how people of different backgrounds and cultures come together to form one nation. America is a diverse country, much like Papua New Guinea, and from this diversity comes great strength. From all of us at the U.S. Embassy Port Moresby, happy Independence Day.
Chargé d’Affaires Joe Zadrozny