Recently, together, we commemorated Memorial Day at the Netherlands American Cemetery at Margraten. In my opening remarks there I quoted our Founding Fathers who famously wrote, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”.
Recent events in America, demonstrate we still need to work hard to achieve that vision outlined at our nation’s birth. Racism and discrimination have no place in a society based on these principles.
George Floyd’s death was tragic and heart-wrenching to watch. The resulting peaceful demonstrations are what a free and open society allow. They encourage us to focus attention on serious issues that must be addressed. The demonstrations that devolved into rioting resulting in further loss of life and property only compounded the pain many of us already felt.
Yes, the events have been painful to us as a country and as individuals. Most Americans know a city, community, or someone that has been deeply affected. Yet even in the midst of our distress, we can take comfort in the fact that the expressions of grief and anguish at Mr. Floyd’s brutal death and the demands for justice have come not just from one group or region of the country, but from the country as a whole. The calls for justice we have witnessed here in the Netherlands and across Europe and the world are similarly heartening. It is evidence of our shared values and the expectation that we do better.
In the coming days and weeks, we as a nation will move to confront the challenges we face. We hope and pray for recovery from the pain. We are confident that we will continue to move forward to make “home” a better place. The aspirations of our Founding Fathers are still bedrock principles to which we are committed.
To our Dutch friends who have expressed their concern and support for our families and our communities as we heal, we say thank you. Jullie zijn echte vrienden.