Today, November 18, 2017, marks the 99th anniversary of the independence of Latvia.
I had previously written about this holiday – officially called Republikas proklamēšanas diena (Day of Proclamation of the Republic of Latvia) – here, which explains the history behind it, but this year is the final year where Latvia is in the double digits.
Next year, this small country will be among the giants.
It’s surprising how much has happened to Latvia – Eastern Europe in general, as well – in these 99 years. A world war, invasions from Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, occupation from the Soviet Union, dissolution of the Soviet Union. Entry into NATO, the UN, and the EU. A nation the size of West Virginia, and it has endured so much for its freedom and independence.
And lest some think that Latvia is simply one of those forgettable countries that don’t really matter, yesterday Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a statement on this historic day:
On the Occasion of Latvia’s National Day
On behalf of the United States government, I congratulate the people of Latvia on the 99th anniversary of your independence.
The relationship between the United States and Latvia is strong. This strength is anchored in our shared commitment to upholding democratic values and the unity of our transatlantic community. Latvia is a valuable partner and a vital NATO Ally. In 2017, our two countries shared many successes, including two meetings between Vice President Pence and Latvian President Vējonis. Vice President Pence underscored the United States’ ironclad commitment to NATO and collective defense under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. Our relationship is strong across many fields, including security and defense, trade, entrepreneurship and innovation, and cultural and academic exchanges, and will continue to broaden through the deep connections between our people.
As you begin to light your candles in Riga and across Latvia to celebrate 99 years of independence, I also want to wish you a great start to your centennial independence celebrations in the New Year. The United States is looking forward to celebrating with you in 2018 as you mark your 100th anniversary.
Next year, Latvia will turn 100, starting a new era for a people who always fought for independence.