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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
February 27, 2003

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Dominican Republic Independence Day Reception
As Delivered

Thank you, Ruben, for your warm welcome. Thank you, Ambassadors Hertell and Noriega, for being here today. Margarita and Fernando, welcome to the White House and happy Independence Day! Fernando, congratulations on your appointment to the Commission on Presidential Scholars. Thank you all for your hard work to foster friendship and opportunity between the Dominican Republic and America.

On this day in 1844, a proud people declared independence and put the Dominican Republic on a path towards democracy. Today we celebrate the anniversary of Dominican independence and the love of liberty that unites all Dominicans and Americans. I'm glad you're celebrating this special day at the White House, which stands as a symbol of freedom worldwide.

One hundred and fifty-nine years ago, a new flag flying proudly became a symbol of freedom for Dominicans. The father of Dominican independence, Juan Pablo Duarte, designed the flag to represent the Dominicans struggle for liberty and the promise of democracy. The cross symbolizes the fight for independence. Red represents the sacrifice of those who fought; blue stands for progress; and white, the Dominicans' hope for lasting peace. Dominicans across the world believe in all their flag symbolizes.

Today in America, the Dominican flag waves alongside the stars and stripes on homes and storefronts. Our nation is inspired by Dominican ideals and enriched by Dominican culture.We celebrate Dominican independence and the Dominican spirit, a spirit of liberty and courage -- a spirit that values family and faith, education and service -- the same spirit that has helped shape America.

America is stronger for the one million Dominicans who live here. And New York is one of the most culturally-rich cities in the world, thanks in part to the more than 650 thousand Dominicans who make it their home. From Corona to Washington Heights to West Harlem, the Dominican spirit of freedom and enterprise enlivens New York City.

As Dominicans strengthen America, Americans have always supported Dominican independence. And we admire the progress being made in the Dominican Republic. Free and fair elections have helped to make the country a model for emerging democracies. Our friendship inspires us to work towards even greater democratic and economic development. Together we are advancing trade and foreign private investment. And we are making progress in preventing illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

Our nations must continue to work together because our futures are bound to one another. Geography makes us neighbors, but our shared values make us friends. America's strong friendship with the Dominican Republic is built on shared culture and common ideals.

We both cherish our families and communities -- the places where traditions are passed from one generation to the next.

Sharing tradition with children is so important and so is the story of Dominican independence. Every child deserves an education and the chance to learn about their history and their ancestors. The history of the Dominican Republic is one of freedom realized. It is a story to inspire every child and every generation.

The fight for independence in 1844 continues to motivate us today. It reminds us that brave and determined people, committed to a noble cause, can do great good. That was true one hundred and fifty-nine years ago, and it remains true today. The United States stands with the people of the Dominican Republic not just on Independence Day, but every day. May God bless La Republica Dominicana and may God continue to bless America.


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