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Ambassador Speeches and Articles

Independence Day 2011

July 4, 2011 | Tallinn
Photo: U.S. Embassy

Photo: U.S. Embassy

Ambassador Michael C. Polt

Mr. Prime Minister, President Ruutel, Madam Speaker, Ministers, Diplomatic Colleagues,

Dear Friends and Honored Guests:

Tere tulemast Ameerika Ühendriikide kahesaja kolmekümne viiendale iseseisvus aastapäevale.  Hallie'l ja minul on heameel, et aitate meil tähistada meie kodumaa kõige tähtsamat päeva.  Oma kohalolekuga austate te meid.  Igale ameeriklasele on väga tähtis, et saame jagada seda sügavalt tundelist momenti koos oma Eesti sõprade ja liitlastega. Härra peaminister, President Ruutel, meie erilised tänud Teile, et olete siin kogu Eesti rahva esindajatena.

Welcome to the 235th anniversary of America's independence!  Hallie and I are so pleased to welcome you back to help us celebrate the most important day of the year for our country.  All of you honor us with your presence.  It means so much for every American here today to be sharing this deeply emotional moment with our close Estonian friends and allies.  Mr. Prime Minister, President Ruutel, a special thanks to you for being here on behalf of all Estonians.

This year, Ladies and Gentlemen, we celebrate America's Birthday in a special Estonian Anniversary year:  The re-birth of Estonian Independence 20 years ago and the return of U.S. Diplomatic Presence to Tallinn.

When my countrymen came together 235 years ago to sign our Declaration of Independence and to move forward on a perilous path, I wonder whether they could fathom what our nation would become or if we would even have the chance to become a nation of our own? 

And, when your Estonian patriots established your independence in 1918, I can't help but wonder whether they had any thought of the pain and sacrifices your people would have to endure before you would reach the enviable position you hold today among the world's free nations? 

And, did anyone know - Estonian or American - nearly 100 years ago, how the paths of our two countries would be intertwined, through many hardships, and become the joint champions of freedom and human progress in Europe and around the globe?

No one knew.  Our forbearers could no more predict the future than we can today.  But, what placed them on a solid - and ultimately right - path was a transcendent belief that their actions could result in a better world. 

A better world, not just for us in America or you in Estonia, but for everyone.

"Inalienable rights; truths that are self-evident; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  Words from the U.S. Constitution, but values held and shared with you here in Estonia.

Lofty aspirations indeed.  And tough ones to achieve.  We Americans certainly have been tempted over time to declare the American dream as having been reached only to see it challenged, or even dashed for some. 

And just as the dream is never fully achieved, so the journey is never really over.  America remains a work in progress that calls us every day to live up to our values.

Earlier this year, President Obama spoke about his vision for America's future.  He said:  "The America I know is generous and compassionate.  It's a land of opportunity and optimism.

... I know that if we (Americans) can come together...to this larger enterprise that is America, we will keep the dream of our founding fathers alive.  We will pass on to our children a country that we believe in."

That country we Americans believe in deeply values its friendships and commitments to its allies.  Friends and allies like Estonia.  What Americans want for themselves; the values we hold dear; don't belong to us exclusively.

Part of our dream is that the Estonian dream, indeed the dream of freedom loving people everywhere, is realized. 

In the words of another of our Presidents: "...freedom and liberty...are not America's gifts to the world. They are God's gift to humanity."

History will judge our combined efforts at making a better United States; a better Estonia;   a better Europe; a better world.

In the spirit of that joint goal on this special day:  God bless the United States of America and Jumal Hoidku Eestimaad!