As every year, the month of November for Latvians is full of events with national savour. Cheerful, sad and making everybody proud at the same time, as on the 11th of November Lāčplēsis (Bear-Slayer) or Armed Forces Day is celebrated to commemorate the victory over the West Russian Volunteer Army at the battle of Riga on the 11th November 1919, but on the 18th of November – the Proclamation of the Republic of Latvia, which took place on the same date in 1918.
In fact, this year a special one, as it carries the pleasant expectation of the quick approach of the 100th anniversary, which will be celebrated next year – in 2018.
For the Latvian contingent the richest week of November started with the 13th of November, when BALTDEFCOL hosted the visit of the Ambassador of Latvia to Estonia H.E. Raimonds Jansons and in the evening Latvian staff and students along with members from the Embassy of Latvia and Tartu Latvian Society lighted up candles and laid flowers at the foot of the monument in the Uus-Jaani cemetery for soldiers and refugees, who died in Estonia during World War I and were buried there.
(Photo by Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Republic of Latvia)
To celebrate the most important two days of November for Latvians the Latvian Senior National Representative and the Commandant of BALTDEFCOL Major General Andis Dilāns on behalf of the BALTDEFCOL Latvian contingent invited all the staff and Latvian students to a reception. The event was opened by the speech of Major General Dilāns outlining why exactly the mentioned two dates are so significant to each Latvian, followed by singing of the anthem of the Republic of Latvia and a cosy reception with special treats from Latvia.
The next event carried the Latvian staff to Tallinn for the reception of the Ambassador of Latvia to Estonia H.E. Raimonds Jansons, attended on the 17th of November by ambassadors and military attaches from several countries, as well as representatives of various ministries and organizations. The Ambassador greeted and congratulated everybody on one of the most important days for the Latvian state in its 99 years of its existence, and invited everybody to visit his beautiful country. Later everybody enjoyed 3 pieces of chamber and classical music sang by tenor Viesturs Jansons from the Latvian Opera with a piano accompaniment. Finally, the participants had an opportunity to taste genuine Latvian dishes.
As a grand finale, the Commandant of the BALTDEFCOL Major General Andis Dilāns and Deputy Commandant and Chief of Staff Colonel Jeannot Trudel (Canadian Army) participated in the traditional Joint church service at Rīga Cathedral, flower-laying ceremony at the Monument of Freedom and a military parade in Latvia, Riga on the 18th of November.
(Photo by Latvijas Armija, https://www.flickr.com/photos/latvijas_armija/albums/72157687494728282)
BALTDEFCOL’s flag team, represented by officers from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania headed by Colonel Miroslaw Smolarek (Polish Army), participated in the mentioned parade, which started in Krastmala or the bank of the river Daugava and continued past the Monument of Freedom and finally carried participants and gathered spectators along the Brīvības (Freedom) Street.