Marking the defeat of Nazism and the end of World War II, senior state officials on May 8 took part in a ceremony in Brethren Cemetery in Riga, honoring the victims of World War II, reports LETA. Hundreds of civilians, government officials, Latvian and foreign diplomatic corps representatives, members of the armed forces and school groups participated in the wreath-placing ceremony.
The ceremony was attended by President Andris Berzins, Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma (Unity), Saeima Speaker Solvita Aboltina (Unity), Mayor of Riga Nils Usakovs (Harmony Center) and parliament members.
After the ceremony, Berzins greeted those gathered and wished them good health. He said that moments of commemoration like these are a good start and a way to explain history. Berzins indicated that the war affected all countries and that it is essential to teach people how to assess the outcome. He also indicated that it is important that schoolchildren participate in events like this.
Earlier this week, Berzins urged the local, or global communities not to permit attempts to re-write Latvia's history and repeat the turn of events of World War II. He said that the strength and the future of Latvia exists in a united vision about an independent country.
The end of World War II is celebrated in Europe on May 8 (V-E Day), and since 1995, in Latvia as well. Russia has its own victory day, which is celebrated on May 9. Russian-speakers celebrate on May 9 in Riga, though for much of the Baltic population, this represents the end of WWII, and the start of an almost 50-year illegal occupation by Soviet Russia, not something that is appropriate to celebrate.
Russian-speakers continue to seem wholly ignorant of this fact, and that the end of WWII brought not joy, but misery and death to millions of Europeans, and Russians themselves, due to Soviet atrocities for decades, until independence.
The Soviet Union, most feel, should be remembered with a great deal of shame and disgust.