Ambassador Kent Remarks for U.S. Independence Day 2023
July 3, 2023
Tere päevast! Ministers, friends, and colleagues, welcome to this Independence Day celebration. It has been five years since a U.S. Ambassador hosted this event here at the Residence. Thank you all for coming today to celebrate with us.
We gather to celebrate our shared commitment: to freedom; to the core of the U.S. Declaration of Independence issued July 4, 1776 – the basic rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and to Ukraine’s victory in 2023, as Ukrainians fight in defense of our shared values.
In the United States on the Fourth of July, we typically celebrate with our friends and neighbors, rain or shine. There’s picnic food, American music, cool vehicles, and discussion about how we can move our communities forward. That’s how we want to celebrate with you here today – our friends and Allies.
Speaking of Allies, I want to thank our U.S. servicemembers here today from the 4th Infantry Division, currently deployed to Estonia at Tapa and Võru. Thank you for your commitment to our collective security. Check out their display and ask them questions about their experience thus far in Estonia.
The 4th ID band will be providing music after these introductory comments. The talented Estonian youth of the Aavo Otsa Trumpet Quintet got us started this afternoon. I want to offer a shout-out tribute to Aavo Ots, who passed away last month, and who introduced brass and jazz to so many young Estonians. Let’s give them another hand! We’ll finish off the event to the rockin’ sounds of the Embassy’s own in-house band, the Shakers.
I also want to thank our sponsors, without whose support this event would not be possible. For the sake of time, I won’t read them all to you, but they are listed on the boards throughout the grounds, and some of their products are available to enjoy.
Tomorrow marks the 247 years of Independence for the United States, though we still had seven years of war after 1776 to fight.
As Americans, we are proud of not just our freedom and independence, but how our democracy has grown and improved since 1776. We are keenly aware of the difficult tests our democracy has been through. We remain optimistic about the progress that must be made as we continue to strive for what our Constitution calls “a more perfect Union.”
I have been in Estonia now for nearly six months. You not only celebrate freedom and independence; you champion them. You do not take these values for granted. You make it clear that we, as Allies, must constantly defend our freedom and independence, as well as those of our friends and partners.
As Ukraine fights to recover its territorial integrity and secure its sovereignty and independence, we are reminded of why freedom matters. And why we – the United States, Estonia, and the entire global community – must continue to stand with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, for as long as it takes to achieve victory and a just and lasting peace.
Championing freedom and democracy goes beyond our security obligations. It also means securing equal rights for all, promoting economic prosperity, and encouraging an active dialogue across communities about how we – Americans, Estonians, and other friends – can continue to strengthen our democracies.
I conclude with a toast: to independence; to freedom; and to healthy democracies; to Ukraine’s path to victory – Slava Ukraini! And to the steadfast U.S.-Estonia partnership – stronger than ever!
Happy Fourth of July!