On February 24, my wife and I were honored to celebrate our first Estonian Independence Day in this country. We were moved and surprised. Moved , because the outpouring of national pride was so genuine, so fresh, and so filled with healthy patriotism. Surprised , because the messages by your country’s leaders were rather sober and even stern in reminding Estonians of tough economic times, further difficulties ahead, and the need for responsible action by both citizens and politicians. At first I thought, too bad, why not let people celebrate for a day without reminders of daily stresses. But then—after a few conversations with our Estonian hosts — another reason for the relative seriousness of celebrating Estonian independence came clear, a saying we also use in the United States: freedom is not free. Estonians seem to appreciate that and accept the responsibility of defending their freedom even after gaining independence a second time. Happy 92nd Birthday Estonia…. and good for you!