This past Friday evening, AMCHAM Luxembourg celebrated their 24th annual American Thanksgiving with 200 Luxembourg and International expatriate guests with passports from 31 countries, including our guests of honor, Minister of Finance Pierre Gramegna and US Ambassador J Randolph Evans and their wives, along with 6 Ambassadors, 8 Corporate Sponsored tables, 7 tables of members and friends including three tables of US University Alumni and a table of representatives of the American stand at the International Bazar.
At this sold out event, we honored Minister Gramegna for his leadership and service to Luxembourg by presenting him with a Swarovski Crystal Statue award, listened to him and US Ambassador Evans speak with eloquence and passion in support of the ties between America and Luxembourg and extoll the joint commitment and contributions of both countries and all the attendees in the room in support of freedom, fairness, equality and promoting prosperity for all of us and for everyone around the world. It was a joyous night of good food, drinks, dancing and entertainment filled with comradery, friendship, sharing, a few nice tombola prizes and reinforcing the ties that bind us all together as colleagues, partners and friends.
On Saturday, I had the pleasure to take two dear friends who had come from Eastern Europe to join us for the American Thanksgiving party on a walking tour of Luxembourg city and to visit the American cemetery in Hamm. We walked the ground of the cemetery overcome by the quiet and solemn beauty of the place and absorbed the sacrifice of 5,076 men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives to liberate Luxembourg, who gave their lives so we can live in freedom today.
On Sunday, I took the opportunity to re-read the address given by President Lincoln at Gettysburg on 19 November 1863 on the occasion of the opening of that cemetery honoring those who gave their lives during the American Civil war. I was struck by how that address was so relevant to me and us today.
On Monday evening I was a guest of the Czech Ambassador and his countrymen for a concert celebrating the birth of the new Czech Republic after the Velvet Revolution not so many years ago. |In addition to a hauntingly beautiful musical tribute presented by two highly skilled Czech instrumentalists on Viola and Piano, there was a somber documentary about the post-world war II years of struggle, sacrifice and challenge leading up to the successful revolution to bring freedom and independence to the citizens of the Czech Republic.
All three of these events one after another in such a short period of time have deeply touched me and shown me with great clarity that freedom is not free and that the good life that we in Luxembourg, America and the West are coming to accept as an entitlement, a right of our birth, is deeply precious far beyond our current superficial appreciation.
We who are so fortunate to be blessed with such materiel success and personal freedom must not take our current fortunate circumstances for granted. It is, as Lincoln said, rather for us to remember that our blessings and opportunities have been earned for us by those who came before… and it is only right and fair that we remember their sacrifices… and dedicate ourselves to continue to fight for and serve to deliver the dream of a better world…a world where all people, regardless of gender, color, religion, nationality or circumstances of birth are created equal and have the opportunity to make the best of and for themselves, a world where we all work together in support of both collective and individual liberty, freedom, happiness and prosperity… We are wise to give thanks while also remembering and taking positive action.
LINCOLN'S GETTYSBURG ADDRESS:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
In remembrance and honor of the 156th anniversary of the Gettysburg address on 19 November 2019, I invite each of you to remember and to dedicate a portion of your day, every day, to ensure the sacrifices of our ancestors, and especially the ultimate sacrifices made for us, were not in vain and to ensure that each one of us living today, every day, makes a contribution to ensure the world becomes a better place of peace, happiness and prosperity… for all of us and those who will come after us.
Let each of us plant a personal seed which grows to justify with new meaning the sacrifice and loss of those who died so we can live free. Let us make the quest for freedom, kindness, tolerance and understanding a part of who we are, what we stand for and how we live our lives, every day… and every moment of every day.
We have the power… it is only up to us to use it. Remembering and taking action are the very least we can and should do to respect and honor those who have given us so much.