American Embassy Holds Early Independence Day Celebration ({{commentsTotal}})

The American Embassy in Estonia, forced to move its annual Fourth of July celebration up a week because of its conflict with the upcoming Song and Dance Festival, convened at the ambassador's residence in Maajemäe on Thursday night.

This year's musical theme for the party, which brought in local music from Viljandi and Haapsalu, and had the popular group Ewert and the Two Dragons, also had a military one. Members of the American 173rd Airborne Brigade, which is now housed in Paldiski, attended this celebration of the country's independence, along with sailors of the US Navy destroyer Oscar Austin, which has been docked in Tallinn Bay the last two days.

American ambassador Jeffrey Levine said since the party had members of the Army, Navy, and the US Marines of the embassy, he told the several hundred invited guests that "I hope you are feeling well protected," to crowd laughter.

"The recent events in the region have fundamentally changed the security environment, and highlighted the critical importance of cooperation. The United States, but as a friend and an ally in NATO is committed to Estonia's security.

"In the last four months, we have had boots on the ground, planes in the air, and ships at sea. We are here in recognition of our friendship, of Estonia's model performance in NATO, and in recognition of its responsible role on the international stage. We will continue to be here when needed, no matter what the future holds," Levine said.

Many members of the Estonian government, past and present, were at the event, including President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, fromer President Arnold Rüütel, ministers, parliamentarians and staff members. Also included were members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Estonia.

A large buffet of American food and drink, including hamburgers, hot dogs, pulled pork and a large cake - 300 kg according to - also had activities such as karaoke, and the yearly display of American automobiles.

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