Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service Event in Alexandria, VA

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Alexandria, Virginia
January 17, 2022


Thank you so much, Krish, for that kind introduction, and for everything that you are doing. I was so amazed when I saw that you were here at LIRS – an organization that I know well from my previous life as a long-hauler PRMer, having worked as the Refugee Coordinator in Kenya and then the Refugee Coordinator in Pakistan working on Afghan refugee issues, but also working on assistance to vulnerable people in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s when the Taliban were there the first time around. But I am really, really proud to see you here.

I’m so proud and so delighted to have our Afghan friends here and want to thank all of you for everything that you’re doing since you arrived, but everything you did prior to your arrival here. I want to thank, as well, Pastor Sarah, for generously hosting us here today. And thank you, Senator Warner for joining us to represent our big-hearted state. I’m a Virginian, as well. I was born in Louisiana, but Virginia is home now. So, I’m one of your constituents, so I have a few things I wanted to ask you for before we begin (laughter, inaudible).

Most important, thanks, again, to everyone here for your outstanding and inspiring work resettling refugees and, recently, our allies from Afghanistan. I know there are staff here who’ve recently arrived, as Krish just told us. And you’ve been through a lot and yet you’re here continuing to serve, continuing to give, and continuing to be part of our communities. So, thank you, again, for everything that you do.

Today, we are here to honor Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King and perform acts of service in Reverend King’s name. And I think, if you read his essay “On Being a Good Neighbor,” you would agree with me that the work being done through Operation Allies Welcome, and at this resettlement site, is particularly an apt way to live up to the legacy that he has left for all of us. In his essay – drawn from a sermon – Dr. King quotes Jesus on the concept of loving your neighbor as thyself. But who, exactly, is your neighbor? According to King, Jesus said it was, and I quote, “anyone who lies in need at life’s roadside.” This was not a theological definition, Dr. King argued – it was situational. That we had to, quote, “remove the cataracts of provincialism” and see each other as brothers and sisters in need.

That is exactly what the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service does every single day, and I am really proud to be contributing alongside you here today, Krish. We particularly appreciate the opportunity to help welcome those who supported us in Afghanistan over the past 20 years. Many of them served alongside our diplomats and women and men in uniform in Afghanistan, and we look forward in the many ways that you will contribute in your new roles, in your new communities here in Virginia and across the United States.

You will see signs on cars in Virginia saying, “Virginia is for lovers,” but Virginia is for love. And that is what we are witnessing here today. So, thank you again, Krish and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, for having us today, and for giving me an opportunity to be part of this program. I am looking forward to working with you and serving beside you – not just today, but every single day in my role as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, but also as an American citizen.

Thank you very much.