Remarks by U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Gwen Cardno
Commemoration of Seri Thai Movement
September 2, 2022
Good afternoon. I would like to thank the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) for hosting this event and for always striving to bring national attention to the Free Thai movement. I’d like to acknowledge the President of the Privy Council, the honorable General Surayud Chulanont. Finally, and most importantly, I’d like to recognize the families of the heroes from the Seri Thai movement who represent the deep and enduring relationship between the United States and the Kingdom of Thailand.
I am honored to have the opportunity to recognize the brave heroes of the Seri Thai movement who sacrificed so much in their fight for Thai sovereignty and freedom. Their story exemplifies the importance of the enduring friendship between our nations. The Seri Thai movement is a story of incredible courage. It is also an important reminder of our deep-seated interest in protecting national sovereignty, a priority that our two nations share.
The volunteers earned the deep respect, admiration, and affection of their American colleagues. Seri Thai’s work laid important groundwork for the Allied Victory. Despite Thailand’s declaration of war on other allies, the United States never recognized the Kingdom as an enemy combatant – instead building upon the critical relationship formed with the Free Thai movement. When the war ended, the U.S. State Department argued for a “free, independent Thailand, with sovereignty unimpaired and ruled by a government of its own choosing,” underscoring the United States’ enduring commitment to Thailand and the defense of its sovereignty.
At a critical time, when the fate of not only Thailand but also of the world hung in the balance, Seri Thai volunteers allied with the United States in the fight for freedom. I would like to honor these brave individuals, whose sacrifices paved the way for the strong relationship that the United States and Thailand enjoy today. The history of our friendship is long and enduring. But today we’re not here just to talk about the past. Today we’re considering this important piece of history through the lens of “Lessons Learned for Posterity.”
I arrived in Thailand less than a month ago, but I have long been keenly aware of the importance of the relationship between our two nations. I’m privileged to be here today to have the opportunity to meet with the descendants of these brave soldiers, whose stories demonstrate our shared commitment to sovereignty, which will be critical in shaping our future. As we prepare to celebrate our 190th year of diplomatic relations next year, the story of our friendship from the Seri Thai movement exemplifies the collaboration and the friendship that will continue to buttress our relationship long into in the future
In July, when Secretary Blinken was here, he and Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Don took steps to build even further upon the partnership that we have developed over the years. In a historic move, our nations signed the United States-Thailand Communiqué on Strategic Alliance and Partnership. By signing this Communiqué, we established a foundation for expanding our bilateral cooperation for the next 190 years. Put simply, we will work together for the good of the American and Thai people, now and well into the future.
The sacrifices that American and Thai soldiers made continue to inspire us. We must remember the lessons of our past as we create our future. Generations of Thais and Americans owe an eternal debt of gratitude to the Seri Thai patriots, whose steadfast commitment to independence helped us get to where we are today.
In the spirit of looking toward the future, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the bright young minds who will shape that future, many of whom are here today. I am delighted to have the opportunity to celebrate these students who are working to commemorate the Seri Thai movement through the video contest that we’ll get to witness shortly.
To the youth here today, we will be looking to you to carry the Seri Thai’s strong spirit of independence and patriotism forward. I ask you to remember the undying spirit of the Seri Thai volunteers as you become the leaders of tomorrow.
Thank you again to all of our honored guests who continue to work hard to keep this important piece of history alive. May our two nations, which have been enduring partners in both war and peace, continue to work together for peace, security, and prosperity throughout the world.