In last year’s Independence Day message I expressed our gratitude to the United States for its constant support of our democracy and security, after twenty years of Strategic Partnership, the latest chapter in a long and enduring friendship. However, this year is the perfect time to talk about the first major chapter of our strong relationship that had one of its peaks 100 years ago. It is the best time to tell the lesser known story of America’s decisive support for achieving the unification of Romanians.
The Centennial anniversary of the 1918 Great Union holds particular significance for the history of Romanian-American relations. Examining the events of 1918 reveals a remarkable degree of historical foresight and continuity, a common thread, composed of rational geopolitical calculations, shared values, and people-to-people relations, connecting the two countries.
The American contribution to the emergence of today’s Romania is most prominently revealed by President Woodrow Wilson’s vision of restoring peace in Europe at the end of the First World War. The 14 Points, presented in the joint session of the U.S. Congress on January 8, 1918, paved the way for Romania’s Great Union. One of President Wilson’s personal messages addressed to the King of Romania, Ferdinand I, in November 1917, formulated the bases of American policy towards Romania: “I wish to assure Your Majesty that the United States will support Romania after the war to the best of its ability and that, in any final negotiations for peace, it will use its constant efforts to see to it that the integrity of Romania as a free and independent nation is adequately safeguarded.”[i] Along with Woodrow Wilson’s assertion of the principle of nations’ self-determination, these positions of support were used consistently, during 1918 and afterward, in the effort to unify Romania.
American support for Romania’s national unity was fully confirmed in November 1918 through a public declaration approved by President Wilson at a cabinet meeting: “The government of the United States is not unmindful of the aspiration of the Romanian people, without as well as within the boundaries of the Kingdom. It has witnessed their struggles and sufferings and sacrifices in the cause of freedom from their enemies and their oppressors. With the spirit of national unity and the aspirations of the Romanians everywhere the government of the United States deeply sympathizes and will not neglect at the proper time to exert its influence that the just political and territorial rights of the Romanian people may be obtained and made secure from all foreign aggression”.[ii]
Independence Day is also the perfect moment to acknowledge the essential contribution of Americans of Romanian origin to the 1918 Great Union. As many of the Romanian-American communities in the U.S., originated in Transylvania, it was only fitting that two Transylvanians, Captain Vasile Stoica and Father Vasile Lucaciu, coordinated the establishment of the National League of Romanians in America, an organization that united all Romanian associations in the U.S.. On June 5th, 1918, the delegations of more than 150 organizations of Romanians in the U.S. attended the Congress of the Romanian National League and elected Vasile Stoica as president of the League.[iii] From this position, Captain Stoica sent memos to President Wilson and other U.S. officials, such as Secretary of Interior, Franklin Lane, met with members of Congress and had public appearances publicized in major U.S. newspapers from New York, Washington D.C., Cleveland or Philadelphia. Stoica’s efforts also mobilized the Romanian-American community, who sent hundreds of letters to the White House asking support for the freedom of the Romanians and their right to be united in one state. On September 20, 1918, as a member of the Committee representing the oppressed peoples of Austria-Hungary, Vasile Stoica was received by President Woodrow Wilson. In response to this strong mobilization, President Wilson sent a clear message of support, which gave substance to U.S. policy favoring self-determination and, in the case of Romanians, their unity in one state.
At the Paris Peace Conference, all these historical threads came together: the courage and perseverance of the Romanian people, both at home and abroad, the strategic vision and political determination of an exceptional generation of political leaders, and the timely and principled support of true friends.
For all these reasons, for being on our side in the most important moment of our history, I want to say it loud and clear: Thank you, America and Happy Independence Day!
God bless America! God bless Romania!
 [i] Victor Mamatey, The United States and East Central Europe. 1914-1918. A Study in Wilsonian Diplomacy and Propaganda, edited by Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1957, p. 121
 [ii] Ibidem, p. 378
 [iii] Gelu Neamţu, In America for the Union of Transilvania with Romania, (published in the Romanian language – În America pentru unirea Transilvaniei cu România, Dageron Impex, 1997, pp. 86-89