Dear fellow Americans and Friends,
Happy 4th of July! The United States’ Independence Day celebration is one of our country’s most beloved. And though many of us are far from our home shores, if you’re like me, this day reminds me of the many years of gathering with friends and family to grill hamburgers and hot dogs, light sparklers, and maybe even launch some fireworks. Those memories have been complemented by the many new and unique July 4th experiences I’ve had while living abroad and proudly serving my country in the State Department’s Foreign Service.
I imagine many of you, too, have discovered new ways to celebrate July 4th while living in Italy. I would expect, as well, that those festivities have allowed you to revisit and retell the story of our country’s founding. Because when you think about it, the unprecedented nature of our great experiment in democracy is one of the most important things that defines us as a nation. It has, throughout history, also served as a beacon of hope to others who aspired to a set of personal and political freedoms founded on the principle that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The America of 1776 is not the America of today, of course, and that is good. The realization of a fully representative democracy that treats all people equally has been an ongoing effort, one that continues to this day and one that will always continue. Democracy is not self-creating; it doesn’t implement itself; and once in place it is not self-sustaining. That is our job as citizens. We are the caretakers, curators, and creators of the laws and institutions necessary to ensure our democracy thrives for all Americans at all times.
Even here, in Milan and across northern Italy, the American community is a part of that project. And I know you take pride in that fact, as do I, especially at a time when we are standing together with Italy and our Allies and partners to confront Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine. We are, as President Biden said, putting “the strength of democracies into action to thwart the designs of autocracy.”
As we reflect on our country’s birth and history at this unique moment in time, we should also enjoy ourselves, perhaps even manage a BBQ with neighbors, raise a toast for how far we’ve come since we were 13 colonies struggling to find a path forward together.
On behalf of the everyone at the U.S. Consulate General in Milan, I wish Americans and all our friends in Milan and across northern Italy a wonderful July 4th.
Robert S. Needham
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Easy Milano is the online publication for the international community of Milan. We offer practical tips, key information and essential insights about living and working in Italy. Easy Milano has been assisting English speaking expats in Milan since 1999.
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