With the new US Ambassador Amy Gutmann, a woman welcomed Berliners to American Independence Day for the first time. It is normally celebrated on July 4th, but this time it was celebrated in the federal capital on Friday, i.e. three days earlier. “Isn’t it nice that we can all be together again?” Moderator Jesse George asked the group, which was significantly smaller than in the years before the pandemic.
The Ambassador wanted to celebrate her first Independence Day in Berlin together with her husband Michael W. Doyle in the garden of their residence in Dahlem – not on the Tempelhofer Feld or in the American Academy, where their predecessors before the pandemic were able to receive significantly more guests.
When the US national anthem played, she sang along loudly. In her speech, the longtime president of the University of Pennsylvania recalled the year 1776, when there were no planes, no trains, no cars and no Internet, but the Declaration of Independence signed in her hometown of Philadelphia went viral anyway because everyone’s right on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was revolutionary.
And that’s still the case, she added. These universal rights must be defended to this day, she said, also with regard to the war in Ukraine. Then she quoted the poet Amanda Gorman with passages from “The Hill We Climb”, the poem she read at the inauguration of US President Joe Biden in January 2021: “For light is always / If only we close it within ourselves dare to find / If we dare to carry it on.”
One can only guess what it might have meant for the ambassador personally to celebrate freedom and justice together with her guests in Berlin of all places. Eventually her father had to flee Germany from the Nazis in 1934. Decades later, the US President sent the daughter back to represent the values of the Declaration of Independence as an ambassador.
Wearing a white blazer with a red and blue dress, she sang along as Jocelyn B. Smith and her band performed before turning her attention to her guests.