Latvians awarded with Cross of Liberty

  • 2011-11-17
  • From wire reports

BROTHERS TOGETHER: Toomas Hendrik Ilves commemmorated the sacrifices neighbors made in the war for independence.

TALLINN - On Nov. 12, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves opened a memorial plaque in the Puha Juri Church (St. George Church) in Tori in Parnu County for 50 Latvian citizens who have received Cross of Liberty badges of honor for co-operating in the War of Independence, reports National Broadcasting. When opening the plaque, Ilves noted that Estonia and Latvia both had to defend their right to independence in wars and to prove their people’s right to freedom in the most difficult way imaginable.

“In this fight, we were brothers in arms, comrades in battles. The Latvian brigade in the Estonian National Army supported our fight for freedom, and Estonian troops helped in liberating Latvia and defending Riga. Alone and without any allies, we would have found these tasks to be much more difficult, if not impossible,” said the Estonian head of state.

Granting the Cross of Liberty badges of honor for co-operation in the War of Independence was not a mere token for the sake of protocol for Estonia’s allies, said Ilves. “This was a sign of Estonia’s gratitude to its brothers in arms who helped us out during our time of need; unfortunately, 20 years later our countries fell alone and without allies,” he added.

The Estonian president noted that with its 21st century wisdom, both countries now know that mutual support and a sense of obligation for security at large, not only that of our own countries, is one of the cornerstones of our future. Ilves recalled that as members of NATO, Estonia and Latvia both take part in the operation in Afghanistan. “This is our contribution to NATO, to cross-Atlantic co-operation and to the Estonian and Latvian future,” he said.

When expressing his respect to all those who had fought for Estonia and Latvia, the president also remembered the man who was the first to fall defending Estonia, in February 1918. During the first hours of an independent Estonia, Latvian Johann Muischneek fell during the fight against the Red Army.