Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield for Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration at the New York Botanical Garden

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 11, 2022


Thank you, everyone. Thank you, Councilmember.  It’s so great for me to be here with leaders from across the city and particularly with Congressman Torres. My team didn’t tell me I was coming to a party.  I thought I was coming to some kind of boring event, where I’d be standing around, shaking hands and listening to speeches all night.  And then I walk in and then there’s music going, and I can’t tell you, I really wanted to start dancing when I walked in the door.  But I held myself back.  So, I looked forward to the band start up again.  So, I can show you what I’m capable of doing. I’m not just an ambassador.

Let me give a huge thanks to the New York Botanical Garden for bringing us here together tonight.  And I want to congratulate all of the awardees tonight.  I’m really honored to be in your presence.  I think it’s especially fitting that we’re here because you can learn so much about Hispanic heritage as you walk around these gardens.  And I do look forward to coming back in the light of day, so that I can see the dahlias, the National Flower of Mexico, which serve as a source of food and medicine and are prominent in the paintings of Frida Kahlo.  Or the roses, and I do love roses, which grow larger and longer in the high altitudes of the Andes.  And you cannot forget the fruit. Notice all the wonderful fruit on the table– from plantains to guava that add to the richness and sweetness of Latin American cuisine here in America.

My friends, our country is fortunate.  Our country is fortunate to share in the culture and yes, the horticulture that makes Hispanic heritage so rich for our country.  It helps define America.  It shapes our music and our art, our literature, and our sports.  And it is a foundational part of our history.  A history that is still being written by young congressmen, like Congressman Torres, who happens to be younger than both of my children. [Laughter.] But he’s still our congressman, as you said.  So, thank you, Congressman.  And by the Hispanic American nurse who worked overtime to care for patients as COVID-19 overwhelmed hospitals.  By the parents who moved their family thousands of miles for a shot at the American dream.  And by the leaders in every profession and part of our society including the members of government, and particularly the local council men and women here with us tonight.

As a member of President Biden’s Cabinet, I’m proud to serve with Secretaries Becerra, Cardona, Guzman, and Mayorkas.  And as the ambassador to the United Nations, I count myself lucky to work alongside many, really, really inspiring Hispanic Americans, because I’m looking over at Ori here, who’s on my staff.  And I’m still so proud that she’s here with me tonight.  She wanted to escort me to this program.  Ori came to this country as a young girl from Colombia. Now, she helps represent the United States on the world stage.  And one day, Ori may be standing here as your US Ambassador. [Applause.]

Her story is uniquely American.  And it is a testament to the very best of this country.  And I’m proud to serve with her each and every day.  Ori is the person that makes sure I get all of my papers when I’m supposed to get them.  Not forget my glasses, which I thought I forgot, but they’re on my head.  So, I’m going to put them on now.  But Ori is a foreign service officer and I know that she has an amazing career in front of us.  I’m so proud to be part of an Administration that is committed to the success of Hispanic communities.

We have stood up for the rights of DACA recipients and others who call this country home.  We have made key investments to help students get ahead and help families get by.  And we have strengthened our relations with Latin American and Caribbean countries including through a Summit of the Americas that I recently attended in Los Angeles.  It really is an honor for me to be here on behalf of the Biden Administration.  And tonight, I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas and your feedback on how we can further prioritize the Hispanic community at home and as well as abroad.

And, of course, I’m looking forward to some more wonderful food.  I only took a taste.  I’m looking forward to the music.  I’m looking forward to dancing.  So now, I’ll pass the mic back, so that we can start to get through all of these boring speeches that are coming, like mine. [Laughter.] Then we can start the party.

Thank you.