US Embassy celebrates Independence Day and American-Estonian alliance
As per custom, the United States Embassy to Tallinn threw a party to celebrate the Independence Day, commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, the date on which the United States formally separated from Great Britain.
But the 1,300 guests who had convened at the US ambassador Jeffrey Levine's residence in Maarjamäe on Thursday night, knew that this time, the celebration is a tiny bit more special.
Since the last Fourth of July commemoration in 2014, the security environment in the region has not changed for better and Estonia is perhaps valuing its mightiest ally, the United States, more than ever.
The reason for this was also clearly and plainly at present: hundreds of uniform-clad American troops, currently on a training mission to Estonia, cheerfully mingled with Estonian ministers, MPs, artists and startup entrepreneurs, many of whom have established branches in the US.
“I love it here, Estonia and its people are very nice,” was a standard response from the US soldiers. “The nature is beautiful too, I love the space,” said the others.
Even the party’s theme this year was 'Freedom and Friendship' and ambassador Levine said that this captures the essence of the US-Estonian relationship. “It is a very real partnership, with support and assistance traveling both directions,” he said.
In his uplifting speech, Levine also looked back at the past year, which was in many ways significant for the relations of the two countries. “The defense of Tallinn and Riga and Vilnius is just as important as the defense of Berlin and Paris and London,” said the US President Barack Obama in Tallinn in early September last year, a visit fondly recalled by Levine, while pointing out the very visible presence of US “boots on the ground” and highlighting again that the US, as a friend and an ally, is committed to Estonia's security.
In line with the night's freedom theme, Levine also mentioned the historic decision by the US Supreme Court last week, which ruled that states cannot ban same-sex marriages. With the landmark ruling, gay marriage became legal in all 50 states. "Although we were not the first country to legalize same-sex marriages, it is important that we have now ensured that all Americans, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, can marry the people they love,“ he said, to cheers and clapping from the audience, remindful that Estonia also took a step towards greater equality last year, when passing the Cohabitation Act, allowing same-sex couples legally to register their partnerships.
The jolly public was kept energized by a large buffet of American food and drink, including hamburgers, hot dogs, pulled pork and a 330 kilogram cake, while the break dance group Check the Rhyme and Daniel Levi Band entertained the guests.