Remarks of CDA Sharon Hudson-Dean/Acting DCM at July 4th Gala

2 July 2015, 6:00 PM

Ministers, Members of the Saeima, excellencies, distinguished guests, good friends, ladies and gentlemen: Labdien.  Thank you for joining us in celebrating the birthday of the United States of America. This year marks the 239th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, a document that not only influenced and shaped our nation’s ideals of liberty and equality, but served as an example for those around the world who longed for freedom.

Today, we are honored to celebrate not only our independence, but also our lasting friendship and partnership with Latvia. In fact, this year also marks an important milestone for Latvia as it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the restoration of its independence.

The bond between our two countries goes back more than 25 years.  And I’m proud to say that each day we grow closer and stronger.  Through our work together in business, trade, and defense, it is clear that the United States and Latvia share common values and have a mutual vision for the future.

I feel a great sense of pride in my country, our partnership with Latvia, and the many great accomplishments we achieved together this past year.  I look around this room and see citizens who work passionately and tirelessly each day in service to their country.

But this evening we take a break to celebrate the democracy and freedom we work to protect by enjoying the best of both our countries: American comfort food and Latvian beer.  I would like to thank Karlis Celms from Zoeste for providing tonight’s food.

The U.S. is proud to partner with Latvia to support our common values of democracy, particularly in a time when individual freedoms and the right to speak out are challenged by the intolerance of others.  The individual rights of liberty, justice, and equality allow people to shape a government that is of the people, by the people, for the people. We honor our autonomy and the right of self-determination.

On this day, we celebrate our independence and commitment to freedom, the freedom that all members of all societies have the right to experience. We recognize the importance of civil liberties in creating a free and just society and the significance of good governance.

But this freedom does not always come easily.  The enduring defense and security partnership of the United States and Latvia, which continues to grow and strengthen, demonstrates the commitment and dedication we have to protect that freedom.  Through Operation Atlantic Resolve we aim to show – not just tell – but show our unified response to those who flout international law and threaten democracy.

We will continue our persistent presence at the invitation of Latvia for as long as necessary to ensure the security and defense of our friends.  We will not have our hard-earned freedom challenged by aggressive forces.

Our common commitment to these values remains a corner stone of our enduring friendship.  This we continued our proud tradition of sending Latvian students and scholars to the United States through the Fulbright Exchange Program.  American students also came to Latvia to study and learn.

This year the Embassy was happy to support Europride, where the citizens of Latvia boldly demonstrated their commitment to supporting the rights and liberties of all of citizens.

We also continue to stand shoulder to shoulder on issues of trade and business.  Our Global Entrepreneurship Week illustrated our commitment to supporting a free market economy by providing resources and tools to small- and medium-sized businesses.  We also partnered with Latvian organizations to help reduce youth unemployment.  More than 1800 students from all over Latvia participated in our youth career development program, Start Strong.

Our ongoing collaboration in all respects brings forth a multitude of both tangible and intangible benefits. This partnership enriches the societies of both our countries. Thank you all for coming to help us celebrate the birthday of the United State of America along with our enduring friendship with Latvia. Happy 4th of July!

Thank you.