• 2000-07-13
It was a beautiful ceremony done up with patriotic songs, with important community leaders in attendance - none more important than the four honorees.

One guest noted that the ceremony was more than special, as it could never have occurred, and never in the way it did on June 4.

Never during the double dictatorships, Soviet and Nazi, could a Latvian expat president from Montreal award Latvia's highest state honor, the Order of Three Stars to two men and two women for doing the unthinkable: rescuing Jews from the Holocaust during Europe's most toxic period of history. A man who received an award, Bruno Rozentals, said of all the awards he has received, the one he was finally able to receive from his homeland in his homeland was the most treasured.

Yet that is what happened just a couple of weeks ago at Riga Palace in the chapel-like room off the "green room." Commenting on the example of human nobility rising above evil and the example set by the brave four, President Vaira Vike-Freiberga handed out medals and long-stemmed red roses before a range of invited community representatives: Latvia's top rabbi, Natans Barkans, Rivki Glazman, Edith Block and Grigory Krupnikovs, leaders in the Jewish community, U.S. Ambassador James Holmes, British Ambassador Stephen Nash, several representatives of chambers of commerce, and others on a guest list that scored the importance of the occasion and included those who want to see Latvia close some of its wounds.

Still, two guests surprisingly overshadowed the eminence of the other guests and the four honorees who risked their lives and their families' lives and the president herself.

How do we know these guests were so important? Well, the two guests stood at the front of the room quite close to the saviors of Jews and the country's president and took permission to take for themselves a position above all others and the observance itself without visible sanction.

Who were these two? The pair of jerk press photographers who, one after the other, unforgiveably let their mobile phones go off during the most solemn part of the ceremony.