This afternoon we had a backyard BBQ for 4000 friends. Luckily, we have a very big backyard.
4th of July at the Ambassador's Residence
The party was great fun and there were so many highlights. But I have to start with the surprise appearance of Laureen Harper. Her presence says a lot about the extraordinary relationship between the United States and Canada, and between the President and the Prime Minister. It also says a lot about her love for BBQ.
Julie Jacobson, Ambassador David Jacobson, and Laureen Harper
We also had a BBQ cook-off among three teams from the United States and three from Canada. For three days, 25 of the best BBQ chefs in North America were camped out on my lawn. For three days I felt compelled to test their recipes. (I was joking that I needed to make a stop to see my cardiologist when this was all over. In fact, it turned out our friend Dr. Robert Roberts, the head of the Ottawa Heart Institute, was among the 4000.)
I suppose everyone – including me – thought the U.S. was going to sweep the contest. It was my chance to get even for the Gold Medal Hockey Game. So I bet Mrs. Harper a couple of cases of beer. Alas, I took it on the chin again. The Canadians won Best Chicken, Best Ribs, Best Pork Butt (I don’t make up these names); and Best National Team. The Americans took the loss hard. But I sense a new national rivalry developing!
A BBQ Chef prepares ribs for the 4th of July event
There were so many great friends who attended. Everyone had a great time. Most notably Julie and me.
There are a bunch of people I want to thank for their efforts, starting with the Canadian people. They have been our friends. They have welcomed us into their country and into their homes. They have treated us like family. I can say without reservation that the United States and Canada are the greatest of friends and allies.
Julie Jacobson, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, and Ambassador David Jacobson
The celebration wouldn’t have been possible without the volunteers from our Embassy and their families as well as the staff at our residence. They are the ones who deserve the credit, not Julie and me.
I want to thank John Woods, our BBQ guru, who assembled the teams and organized the competition in a flawless way. And I want to thank all of our sponsors. Our national day is NOT paid for by the United States government. It is totally supported by our sponsors. Without their generosity the event literally would not have happened.
Juno award winner Sean Jones sings the Star Spangled Banner
On the music front, I want to thank our headliner, Ottawa’s own Lynn Miles; Sean Jones, who did a spectacular version of O Canada and the Star Spangled Banner; and the Governor General’s Band of the Ceremonial Guard, who performed good old fashioned 4th of July marching music for our guests.
The Governor General's Band of the Ceremonial Guard
During the party I had a chance to give a few reflections on the significance of the 4th of July which I would like to repeat here:
On July 4, 1776, in the yard of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, a man named John Nixon read a document which changed the course of history. That Declaration of Independence famously began:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that 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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….”
We are here today, 235 years later, to celebrate what George Washington referred to as “the experiment entrusted in the hands of the American people.” That experiment has served the American people well–in times of peace and in times of war; in times of plenty and in times of want.
It has been the answer to the cynical, to the fearful, and to the doubtful. There have been times — like the present — when the road is long. The climb is steep. But we’ve always — always — made it to the top of the hill.
One of the things I’ve learned since I got to Canada is that our two countries share so many of the values that are enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. Therefore, if all of us – Americans and Canadians – work together, we can change our countries … we can change the world for the better. We can continue Washington’s great experiment toward a more perfect union.
American flag at the residence of the U.S. Ambassador
So I ask each of you to come together in a spirit of responsibility and mutual respect, to pitch in and work harder. Not only for ourselves, but for each other. In the words of my boss Barack Obama: “This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time.”