As we prepare to celebrate America’s 247th birthday and the date the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, I cannot help but feel overwhelmed by emotion as my tenure draws to a close. July 4 is a day when Americans, together with our friends and allies, gather in celebration. It is also a day to celebrate our shared democratic values.
The United States, together with our European partners and allies and many others around the world remain committed to supporting the people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom and democracy against Russia’s brutal and unjustified invasion. As President Biden said, “The struggle by the Ukrainian people to defend their country reminds us that freedom is priceless. The U.S. will stand with the Ukrainians for as long as it takes for them to secure their sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence.” The United States appreciates Italy’s and San Marino’s response to the Ukrainian crisis. Our collective response to the invasion of Ukraine is a prime example of how the alliance between our nations is stronger than ever. We stand together today, just as we stood together to liberate Europe in World War II, because freedom is priceless.
The U.S.-Italy and U.S.-San Marino bilateral partnerships are built upon our long history of shared bonds, dating back hundreds of years. 2023 marks the 204th anniversary of our U.S. diplomatic presence in Florence, the 162nd anniversary of both the birth of U.S.-Italy diplomatic relations and President Abraham Lincoln’s acceptance of honorary citizenship from the Republic of San Marino. Our histories are truly intertwined.
When I came backpacking through Italy as a student, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would have the honor of serving my country as the 49th Consul General in Florence. I have read that American novelist Herman Melville solicited President Lincoln in 1861 for the office of Consul in Florence. His request was not granted, but it is easy to understand why his heart was set on Florence. This has been one of the richest chapters of my life. When I think about what I’m going to miss most about my time serving at the U.S. Consulate in Florence, which in my opinion has the most beautiful consular district in the world (Tuscany, most of Emilia-Romagna, and the Republic of San Marino), it is the people. All that we have accomplished together is thanks to partnerships, both old and new, and to all of you who have helped us continue to build upon the centuries-old U.S.-Italy and U.S.-San Marino ties. In the end, it is the people who make the difference, and I feel very fortunate to have found a warm and welcoming community in every place I have visited these last three years.
Thank you for your friendship and Happy Fourth of July!
Ragini Gupta, US Consul General in Florence