Fourth of July Reception 2023 – Remarks by Ambassador Palmer

Ambassador Virginia Palmer delivering her remarks at the 2023 Fourth of July celebration.

Remarks by Ambassador Palmer
Fourth of July Reception 2023
As Prepared for Delivery


Good evening and a warm “akwaaba” to all of you as we celebrate the 247th anniversary of the independence of the United States of America.  It’s especially great to be here in person, after COVID brought us a few years of virtual celebrations.

I’d like to begin with some thanks:

  • First, our sponsors – leaders of the 100 company-strong American business contingent in Ghana. We’re very grateful for your contributions to tonight’s event and even more for what you do to innovate, upskill, and create jobs and prosperity for both Ghana and the United States. Thank you to American Tower, Cargill, GE, Hershey, Imperial Logistics, AFAM Concept, Avis, Land Tours, Accra Brewery, Delta, Federal Express, Holiday Inn, Pizza Hut (Melcom Group), KFC (Mohinani Group), Pinkberry (Quick Holdings), Modec, Rendeavour, Trimble, United, Visa, WAPCo, and Swagelok (Xost).  (They’re listed on the screens behind me.) Please sample some of the flavors from those who provided food and drink tonight (KFC!  Pizza Hut!  Pink Berry! Hershey Chocolate!) that make Ghana feel like home for the thousands of Americans who live and visit this beautiful country.   I’d like to salute and thank my sensational Deputy Nicole Chulick.  This will be her last July 4th in Ghana and the Mission will be much poorer without her insight and compassionate leadership.
  • I’d like to thank the Topside Brass Band for coming all the way from Italy to share some great jazz with all of us! Tonight, we’re celebrating not just our independence but the ties that bind the U.S. and Ghana.  One of those is music.  And jazz, with its roots in the rich tapestry of African culture and the experience of African Americans is a powerful expression of resilience, creativity, and freedom and a testament to the incredible contributions that people of African descent have made to the world.
  • Finally, I’d like to thank Katie Cummings and the July 4th Committee she headed who put in weeks of work to make tonight’s event, well, FABULOUS. Thank you all very

I’m going to try to depart from the normal formula of talking at length about our bilateral programs.  Let’s just say it’s been an amazing year!  I’ll highlight just three things that demonstrate the breadth of the relationship:

  • we concluded work on a $390 million Millennium Challenge Compact which built power infrastructure that will make major contributions to Ghana’s growth;
  • The depth of our longstanding security partnership was on show when Ghana and the United States hosted Flintlock, a major military exercise involving militaries from 29 nations. And we’ll soon be commissioning two ships for the Ghanaian navy and handing over a pier and millions of dollars of equipment for the Special Boats Squadron; and finally
  • When Vice President Harris visited Ghana, she announced major programs on security, digitalization, and women’s economic empowerment that look at Africa as a critical partner on issues which will define the global future – new technologies, climate, and democratic growth. The choice of Ghana as her first stop was intentional – acknowledging not just our historic ties, but Ghana’s leadership in regional security and on the UN Security Council and her model for democratic governance.

Highlights of Vice President Harris’ visit and other programs are playing on screens around the event all evening.

I want also to acknowledge that it’s been a very tough year for Ghana.  Please know that as you implement the new IMF program and Ghana’s economic recovery accelerates, the United States government, companies and people stand with you.

The Fourth of July is a reminder that the flame of freedom burns brightly in all of us who strive for a better future.  Ghana’s own independence struggle inspired countless others in their quest for freedom – including in the United States – and your example burns bright in a time when there has been much democratic backsliding across the region.

Together we draw inspiration from the heroes of our past—the activists, the innovators, the dreamers—who have pushed boundaries, battled discrimination, and changed the course of history.  We, collectively, stand on their shoulders.  We owe it to them to continue the fight to deliver and defend accountable, inclusive democracies that truly serve our people.

I say deliver because we still have much to do – here and at home.  Injustice persists.  Misinformation provokes disorder.  Corruption erodes confidence in public institutions and deprives citizens of basic needs and a prosperous future.  We know that when delivery of public services falters, people lose faith in their government.  We don’t have to look far to see examples of extremists taking advantage of this failure.  That’s why we work together to deliver on the promise of democracy.  The solutions to these problems – corruption, lack of faith in public institutions, the threat of extremism – lie in more democracy, not less.

Every one of us has the power to make a difference.  Let us stand up against corruption.  Let us work together to promote peace, tolerance, opportunity, and inclusivity.  Let us champion human rights for all, no matter a person’s race, creed, gender, or sexual orientation.  I hope that in the coming year business, political, and civil society leaders confront bigotry in all its forms.  The United States needs a partner like Ghana, where human rights are recognized for their role in deepening business and social connections

I’d like to end by quoting WEB DuBois, who battled discrimination at home, was welcomed in Ghana and is buried 100 yards from where we gather tonight:

I believe in Liberty for all men: the space to stretch their arms and their souls; the right to breathe and the right to vote, the freedom to choose their friends, enjoy the sunshine, and ride on the railroads, uncursed by color; thinking, dreaming, working as they will in a kingdom of beauty and love.

Thank you.


Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in a toast:  to the health of His Excellency President Nana Akufo-Addo and the people of Ghana and to the values of freedom, democracy and tolerance that make our nations great.