Virginia E. Palmer (right), US Ambassador to Ghana, and Godfred Yeboah Dame, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, at the event
Virginia E. Palmer (right), US Ambassador to Ghana, and Godfred Yeboah Dame, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, at the event
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United States celebrates 248th anniversary: On shared values of democracy, diversity

The United States Embassy in Ghana last Thursday organised an elaborate ceremony to commermorate its 248th independence anniversary by reinforcing their long-standing relations and shared values of democracy and diversity.

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Before becoming a country, the US was a group of colonies owned by Great Britain. However, on July 4th, 1776, the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, announcing the colonies' separation from Great Britain. 

Though Congress had voted in favour of the independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, it did not actually complete the process of revising the Declaration of Independence originally drafted by Thomas Jefferson in consultation with fellow committee members John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and William Livingston, until two days later. The Constitution provides the legal and governmental framework for the United States. 

Important Holiday

The 4th of July is now an important holiday in the United States. Americans celebrate the day by participating in parades and going to events and concerts where patriotic songs such as “America the Beautiful” and “This Land is Your Land”, are played. At night, many people gather in parks to watch fireworks and displays of colourful lights exploding in the sky.

During the early years of the republic, Independence Day was commemorated with parades, oratory and toasting in ceremonies that celebrated the existence of the new nation. These rites played an equally important role in the evolving federal political system. With the rise of informal political parties, they provided venues for leaders and constituents to tie local and national contests to independence and the issues facing the national polity.

Mutual commitment

The United States and Ghana have a close and enduring friendship rooted in their mutual commitment to freedom and democratic values and celebration did not only marked US 248th Independence Day but also reaffirmed the strong and evolving partnership between Ghana and the United States, united by their commitment to democracy and diversity.

It brought together a host of dignitaries including Ministers of State, Members of Parliament, Security Agencies, Members of the Diplomatic corps, chiefs and queenmothers, the American community in Ghana and the media, therefore, highlighted the diversity and bilateral ties between the two nations.

Historical ties

Reflecting on the historical ties between the two countries, the US Ambassador to Ghana, Virginia E. Palmer indicated Ghana has been a part of the American story since before there even was a United States of America and the fact that the two countries’ relationship began in such a horrendous chapter of human history, this friendship has since evolved into a friendship of like-minded partners, which is a true testament to the values that bind Ghana and the US.

She said democracy and diversity were at the heart of this relationship, serving as the foundation and lifeblood of both nations. “Democracy is the heartbeat of our nations, the foundation on which our countries are built. Diversity is what gives democracy its value and purpose,” she stated, while drawing parallels between the inclusive democratic processes in both countries.

Upcoming elections

While highlighting the upcoming elections in Ghana and the United States, the Ambassador acknowledged the challenges that posed and the essential role of a free, transparent, and credible elections in sustaining democracy.

It’s hard today as the US sees its neighbours in West Africa struggling with democratic backsliding and coups, with its adversaries attempting to divide and conquer by eroding public trust in the governments and their democratic institutions, with extremists exploiting inequalities and injustices.

This journey is always difficult, especially in 2024, an election year for Ghana and the US, as elections are messy but are especially worth fighting for in Ghana and the US because of the incredible diversity our two countries have in common. Now, the word, “diversity”, gets thrown around a lot, so let me tell you what it means to me. 

Democracies

There’s still more to do, and this year will test the democracies of both our republics. But if we uphold the democratic institutions that have remained a bulwark of our countries; draw upon our diversity as our strength, not a liability; and insist on the rights of our fellow citizens to voice their opinions and dissent, even as we disagree with them our republics will be in good hands. I believe we can “keep” them. 

Ambasador Palmer who acknowledged some key achievements in the US-Ghana partnership over the past year praised Ghana for hosting Operation Flintlock, which involved the armed forces of 31 nations in a regional security exercise, and commended the joint efforts in responding to the devastating floods in the Volta Region.

Ghana and US relations

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, who led the government delegation to the celebration noted that the US remains a significant trade and investment partner for Ghana, contributing to its economic growth and job creation. He said Ghana, among other things, is committed to leveraging the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA, which was instrumental in promoting trade, creating jobs, fostering innovation across various sectors of its economy and driving economic growth and prosperity.

He lauded the efforts of the US government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in contributing to the development of Ghana in various sectors of the country's economy, adding that in 2023, USAID dedicated over $140 million in support of health, economic growth, agriculture, education, governance and security issues in Ghana. 

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