It’s my pleasure, on behalf of the whole U.S. Consulate General in Milan, to once again wish my fellow Americans a Happy Independence Day – and a happy 240th birthday to the United States of America!
It has been quite a busy year. 12 months ago we were experiencing the incredible Expo Milano. By October 31, when the gates of Expo closed, the USA Pavilion had welcomed an astounding 6.1 million visitors. Since then, we have continued to work closely with leaders throughout northern Italy, in business, education and culture, the judiciary, minority populations, human rights activists, law enforcement and military personnel, students, artists, and many others. As always, I have been deeply impressed by the talented and compassionate Italians I am so fortunate to meet each day.
It’s been a difficult year as well, but often our common challenges bring us even closer. We’ve seen so much senseless violence this year, in Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, and elsewhere. The tragic events in Orlando, Florida, reminded us that wherever such horrific attacks occur, we are always stronger when we come together. I was heartened when, the day after the shootings, so many Milanesi, led by proactive LGBTQ organizations, gathered at the Consulate, for heartfelt words, songs, and a candlelight vigil. Coming together, we – Italians and Americans, gay and straight, from all religious backgrounds – were as one. As President Obama said, it was a “sobering reminder” that any attacks are attacks “on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us.”
We cannot live in fear, and people here understand that. We have long stuck together as close allies. Even as Italy celebrated the 70th year of the Republic –a momentous anniversary– we hasten to add that the U.S. Consulate has been here more than twice as long!
Also in common this year is the theme of elections. Many cities throughout Italy, including Milan, have elected new mayors. In the United States, on November 8, we will elect a new President. It appears that for the first time in our history one of the major party candidates will be a woman. But before we look ahead, I think it’s appropriate to recognize our current President, Barack Obama, whom I believe will leave a positive legacy at home and around the world. His insistence on engagement has improved our foreign policy efforts, and led to successes such as the agreement preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons; opening relations with Cuba; and leading the global efforts to mitigate climate change. It goes without saying that this administration holds Italy in the very highest regard.
Elections, of course, are all about voting, and so, in closing, I want to remind all of my fellow citizens here to make sure that you vote. The process of voting from abroad has never been easier, and we can help. Check out www.FVAP.gov to make sure you are registered. Every vote counts.
As always, I would like to acknowledge and thank our friends at Easy Milano who help bring Americans and expats together in deep, meaningful, and often highly entertaining ways.
Again, Happy Independence Day and buona festa a tutti!
Ambassador Philip T. Reeker
U.S. Consul General
Consulate General of the United States of America in Milan, Italy
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