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The President of the Republic at the Pärnu Vallikäär on May 28, 2001

Estonia Remembers

Dear grandfathers and, grandmothers,
fathers and mothers,
and children,

You all know why we are here today. We were taken away, and we have come back. This is a day of mourning, and yet a day of mourning when we do not lower the black, blue and white flag of Estonia, but let it fly proudly - just as it does today on the streets of Pärnu. I would like to thank you from all my heart for this beautiful beginning, I would like to thank those who performed tonight, and especially, I would like to thank the children who have indeed been speaking of the future, who have been speaking of their hopes, of their expectations; so that I could hear the voices of all those children who had once said the same things without knowing that they would never see their fathers and mothers again, as they never returned from their long journey.

My dear friends, the mourning day is a day when our hearts are above all filled with grief for those who never came back to Estonia, but even more with the pride for standing here, for being the winners; and the terror, from which 60 years will soon pass, will never recur. I would rather not hold a very long speech today. Your presence here makes it quite clear that these feelings, this pain, and loyalty to Estonia are the force that has brought us together here today. I would like to tell you that today, the day of mourning is 60 years old. We will also in the future celebrate this day on June 14, the anniversary of the first great deportation. This is not to say that the first great deportation was more important than the next one on March 26-29, 1949, or the other four major waves of deportation that swept over Estonia; this is just the day when we recall all these matters, when we commemorate those who never saw the rebirth of Estonian independence, and gather around Estonia so that Estonia may also in the future be free and proud, and as wealthy as it was before World War II.

All in all, Estonia lost 110,000 people. Dear people, just think what a small nation we are and that we are still alive, and still strong. Yet we have not gathered here to weep, or to rub salt into old wounds. What we can do, and what we are obliged to do in the name of our children, our successors, is to say that Estonia must in every situation, also in the most difficult one, remain true to herself, be courageous, and defend herself; and that Estonia is no longer alone in the world as she was 60 or 61 years ago. Then, we were alone. Then, we were caught between two big grindstones that ground and ground and ground - tens of millions of others besides our people. We think of all those who are not among us but still could be. We think of everything that has been left undone in Estonia, we think of the children never born, we think of universities never built, we think of our artists, writers, and composers whose last words or songs faded into the faraway woods, and who were never nominated for the Nobel prize. This is the price that we carry in our hearts. This is also the goal that brings us together around Estonia, the only country that we wish to care for - just as gently as those two children spoke today.

Dear fellow countrymen, I did not come here to hold speeches. I just wish to tell you that there are few nations in the world that have had to surrender so much to two great totalitarian powers. And there are only three nations that can be compared here, that have kept alive their confidence, their will to live and their respect for all those who have been taken from their midst by fate - or actually not by fate, but by the cruelty of big states. They are Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians. This is what unites us, and we have fulfilled our duty towards history, we have remained true to Estonia, we have remained true to democracy, and we have let democracy into that prison that we now have left behind - democracy, the beautiful bird, has been able to destroy even that prison. This is the ancient share of Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians in what we call history, and we can be proud: history is fair. We still need some more time to face the world as proudly and confidently as we used to before World War II.

And now, dear people of Pärnu, I would like to thank you for today, for gathering here, for the loyalty that has brought you here. We all have different memories of our hardships, and those memories must be united into a joint resolve - to care for Estonia, to care for Estonia's future, to care for the young people of Estonia, so that in the future, Estonia could stand proud and wealthy. I want to thank you. I would like to give the badge of Broken Cornflower to all of you. This has been our national flower. It has been broken, but it is still blossoming. It has brought you here today. Let this be a sign of our hope, let this be the sign of our loyalty - let this be the sign of my gratitude to all of you, my dear fellow countrymen.


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