Estonia, US celebrate freedom, friendship
Eestlased Eestis 03 Jul 2015  EWR
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dvids 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Story by Sgt. Juana Nesbitt

TALLINN, Estonia – Under clear skies and a warm breeze, more than 1,500 American service members, business owners and Estonian locals gathered at the home of the U.S. Ambassador to Estonia in Tallinn, July 2, to celebrate the United States of America’s Independence Day.

“This is a celebration of American independence that we share with the Estonians,” said U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Kenneth Stevens, detachment commander for U.S. Marine Security Guard in Tallinn, Estonia, for the U.S. Embassy. “It’s a chance for them to experience Independence Day, the American culture and what we do.”

In his opening remarks, Jeffery Levine, U.S. Ambassador to Estonia, welcomed the service members in attendance as “part of more than 4,000 U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, National Guard and Marines who have rotated through Estonia in response to the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine.”

For Levine, these service members reflect an inner struggle that he often faces as ambassador.

“They represent the difference between the way I want the world to be and its reality,” said Levine. “A U.S. military presence in Estonia is not something I would have imagined when I arrived here three years ago, and none of us would have welcomed the event that so dramatically changed Europe’s security environment, but when it happened, you asked for the support of your allies and we are here.”

As he concluded his speech, he thanked the Estonian people for their warm welcome of the U.S. troops and declared the night a celebration of freedom and friendship.

As the festivities began, U.S. Soldiers, serving in Estonia, provided a safe passage as Stevens, led his color guard, during a presentation of the colors ceremony that featured the Estonian and U.S. national anthems.

“It’s a great honor to be the detachment commander here and perform the ceremony of the colors, the American Flag, and pay its appropriate respects during the Fourth of July ceremony,” said the Medford, Pennsylvania, native.

For the rest of the night, attendees enjoyed a spread of classic American cuisine, such as pulled pork sandwiches, grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, and a 600-pound U.S. birthday cake. They also jammed to the beat of the Daniel Levi Band, a performance from the Estonian Break Dance Association and a surprise performance from the Soldiers.

Although far from home, Spc. Glen Lepoidevin, a team leader with Destined Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, stated he was thankful for the opportunity to relax and celebrate the holiday.

“It’s a very nice change of scenery, to cut loose and just relax with some of the guys,” said the Honesdale, Pennsylvania, native.

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