Yesterday, we had my final July 4th celebration in the front yard of my home. We had thousands of friends and colleagues celebrating with great food (how about that key lime pie) great music performed by my friend Sean Jones, and great fun. A special thank you to our sponsors who helped make the event possible. The weather even cooperated.
During the festivities I gave the following remarks (with occasional tears tossed in for good measure):
“My fellow Americans, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Senators, Fellow Ambassadors, honored guests, and friends:
John Wayne once said there were three secrets to his success: Talk low, talk slow; and don’t say too much. While that is probably great advice for a big party like this, I only promise to follow the first two rules. So bear with me a little.
It’s an honor and a pleasure for my wife Julie, my daughter Wynne, my son Jeremy and me to welcome you to the 237th anniversary of the founding of the United States of America. While this is a very happy day for all of us, it is also a sad day for me and for my family. This is the last time I will be able to talk to you as the United States Ambassador to Canada. Tomorrow we will take down the tents. We pack up the house and return to Chicago as private Citizens. Tomorrow, I have to relearn how to drive and how to take out the trash.
Winston Churchill once said that “the brightest hours flash away the fastest.” So it has been with my four years here in Canada. Everyone has a special time in their life. This has been mine. When I am old and toothless I will be mumbling about my days here in Canada.
For the last four years, I have had the best job in world. It has been my everlasting honor to have served here.
There are so many people I have to thank. First and foremost, I have to thank President Barack Obama for the confidence he has shown in me.
Thanks to Prime Minister Harper and his government for their unswerving partnership.
I could not have accomplished anything without the support of my staff at embassy and the consulates. I get the credit. But they do the work.
I want to thank my daughter Wynne and my son Jeremy who have come to love Canada as much as I do.
And a profound thanks to my wonderful wife Julie. She has been my partner in this odyssey. She has set a standard in diplomacy that will endure for many years. One I could never hope to match.
But most of all, I want to thank the Canadian people. During the last four years Julie and I have had the wonderful opportunity to travel all across this beautiful country. We have met the Canadian people. You have welcomed us into your homes and into your hearts. I have come to understand – even more than I did on the day I arrived – that you are a kind nation and that Canadians are good people.
The relationship between the United States and Canada has – for generations – been perhaps the strongest between two nations on earth. I am proud to say we have maintained it and perhaps enhanced it a little. There have been a number of accomplishments that we can be proud of together: Beyond the Border, The Regulatory Cooperation Council, our progress on trade, a new bridge over the Detroit River, and so much more.
I am proud that the tone of the discussion seems to have changed a little. We are able – on both sides of the border – to take problems in stride. Both our governments and our citizens understand the fundamental soundness of our relationship. And when bumps in the road develop – as they always will in a relationship of this size and scope – we take them in stride.
I am proud of all of these things. But when asked, what I am most proud of, it is the bond I believe Julie and I have developed with the Canadian people. And the thing that makes me the saddest today is that I will be leaving those friends, at least for a while.
Over the last four years we have had so many wonderful moments I can’t even count them. Traveling to Afghanistan to see Canadian and American Soldiers fighting shoulder-to-shoulder. Visiting Gander Newfoundland on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 and meeting the Canadians who helped not just those who were stranded – but the rest of us – see goodness in the face of evil. I will never forget the Vancouver Olympics. Though I believe I have blocked out that Gold Medal hockey game. I’ve traveled across the far north. I’ve driven a Zamboni. I will savor these – and so many more – for the rest of my days.
I have a favor to ask all of you. When my successor arrives please treat him or her with the same warmth, the same understanding, and the same support that you have extended to me and to my family.
While it is for others to judge my contribution, I leave confident that I did my best; that the relationship between the United States and Canada is strong; that the United States is lucky to have Canada as its neighbor.
To all of you, Canadians and Americans alike never waiver in your commitment to this relationship, never tire in the effort to improve it, and as President Obama so often tells us: never lose hope.
From the bottom of my heart – let me say thank you for the remarkable four years you have given us.
And … for the last time … let me say: “on behalf of the President of the United States and the American People” have a happy 4th of July.
Thanks so much.”
As I told Julie at the end of the party: “We went out in style.”