(In progress) recognizes the importance of this particular commemoration by not only your presence here, but your interest in these year-long activities. Before we came out, the Mayor and the Prince of Orange and Princess Maxima and Minister Timmermans and I were all talking, and the mayor made one of his astute observations that if the Dutch paid $24 for New York, that $24 invested 400 years ago could be more valuable than all the real estate in New York. Now I’m glad that they did invest. I’m glad that they took that risk, and I’m very honored to be here to be part of this ceremony.
We just saw the Half Moon sail by. And I think it’s important to just pause for a minute and remember that that is an exact replica of the Half Moon that crossed the Atlantic that discovered New Amsterdam that went up the Hudson, and then returned with 18 sailors onboard. On the return, there were somewhat fewer. But nevertheless, it is a reminder and a visual symbol of the extraordinary courage that it took 400 years ago to cross that large ocean.
So we are standing on the deck of another great ship, the Intrepid, which reminds us, too, of how courageous its crews were during World War II, surviving bomb attacks, torpedo hits, five kamikaze strikes, but never wavering from its mission. And it is exciting that we are celebrating this 400th anniversary kickoff with Your Highnesses on the deck of the Intrepid.
The anniversary of the arrival of Henry Hudson and the crew of the Half Moon gives us a chance to celebrate all that New York has been, is today, and will doubtless be in the future. Not only the greatest city in the world, which the mayor does not overstate when he says that, but still a beacon of freedom, of diversity, of excitement and dynamism, in the extraordinary collection of those who have called this great city their home over all of these centuries.
Later this month, the United States, through the United Nations, will host the 64th session of the General Assembly, welcoming leaders and diplomats from around the globe. And they will, like those Dutch sailors 400 years ago, see what an exciting potential New York represents, a city pulsing with energy, brimming with optimism, and big-hearted enough to embrace the entire world.
This is also an occasion to celebrate the longstanding friendship and alliance between the United States and the Netherlands. Our countries have been linked ever since the day that the Half Moon first appeared on the horizon. The Netherlands was the second nation to recognize our independence and the first to host one of our embassies. Dutch Americans, some of whom are here today, have contributed greatly to our culture and our prosperity. And today, our two nations are united not only by our long history, but our common values and our shared hope.
The Netherlands sets a standard for justice and tolerance that inspires people around the world. It is a global leader in upholding international laws and promoting human rights. And it is home to one of my favorite flowers, the tulip.
We’re working together as partners to address the challenges of violent extremism to champion democracy. Our troops stand and fight and die side by side in Afghanistan. Our diplomats work hand in hand and partnered – as partners in peace. And I’m very grateful that the Netherlands hosted a very important conference shortly after our Administration came into office, to look for a way forward with respect to Afghanistan.
In April of this year, the Dutch Foreign Minister Verhagen gave me a wonderful gift – a copy of the Schagen letter from 1626 that documents the purchase of Manhattan, alongside the oldest map of New York dating from 1639. The letter will actually be on display at the South Street Seaport Museum starting on Saturday. I hung the minister’s gift on the wall of my office in the State Department as a daily reminder of our shared past and our common future.
I particularly want to thank their highnesses for joining us at this wonderful celebration and to look forward to many, many more years – dare we say another 400 – of close cooperation on behalf of our common destiny. Thank you very much.
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