Since 2013, the last day of August marks Romanian language day. Today, however, is my first occasion to be in Romania on this day and it is the perfect moment for me to share my appreciation for the Romanian language, culture, people, and nation. I have never lost sight of how blessed I am to be the product of two countries and two cultures. It is the Romanian language that has allowed me to maintain my close links with the country of my birth while representing the United States in all of its greatness.
The line between culture and language is very fluid. I have often wondered if it is possible to actually understand one without understanding the other. When my parents took the incredibly brave step of leaving their homeland, they left all that was familiar behind. They brought with them their language, however, and it is a gift they shared generously with me. We spoke Romanian at home while also trying to master the English language. Goethe wrote that those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own. I agree. The beautiful Romanian language has given me profound appreciation for the English language.
My parents and the diaspora community helped me retain my Romanian language skills. I thank them one-and-all. My story is the embodiment of the American dream—I represent my American homeland in the country of my birth. Romanian, and those who spoke it with me, helped make this possible. Every bit as important as the words and nuances that you all taught me, is the culture you surrounded me with. The Romanian community in the United States is vibrant and strong and it instilled in me not just an appreciation for traditions, it gave me an incredible and ancient historical grounding. The Romanian language was the key needed to unlock it all.
Keeping a language and a culture alive in another country is not easy—particularly as generations pass. But it is necessary, lest we lose our connections to our past, a part of our identity, and—in the case of the United States—a critical thread in the cultural tapestry that is our country. I send my appreciation to all those who work to keep the beautiful Romanian language alive outside of Romania. You are passing on much more than just a language.
May God bless the great people of Romania and of the United States.
Ambassador Adrian Zuckerman