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The President of the Republic at the Valga City Park, May 29, 2001

Estonia Remembers

Yesterday I was in Pärnu, today I am here with you, and tomorrow I will be in Viljandi. And the reason is the same - our mourning day. I would like to tell you what the Mourning Day should mean to us. It does not mean only those that were deported on June 14, 1941. It signifies something much more important - all those that were taken by force from Estonian homes, from Estonian cities and villages. It also means those who were deported in 1949. But above all, it relates how the totalitarian power attacked a small nation and tried to separate families, to russify children, and to scatter the people belonging to that nation on a huge territory. And in fact, this day means a lot more. We are here as if to recall the first deportations. This is true, but the framework is much broader. I have a sheet of paper in my hands. Let me read you some names recorded on it.

Even today, in 2001, we have only the slightest idea of the extent of the losses borne by the people of Estonia, the losses borne by the Valga County. I know that 71 people were deported from Helme rural municipality in 1941, and more than half of them died. But we are not only talking of the victims of deportation today. I would like to remind you of the name of Märt Veidenberg. This may be a forgotten name. But he was the first man in the Helme rural municipality to be arrested in August 1940. We must also speak of those who were arrested separately. Why separately? Because the plan to split up the strongest Estonian families had been drawn up conscientiously and without mercy.

I would like to read you all the names who were arrested in the city of Valga in 1940-1956: Aab, Bandalovski, Berg, Brandt, Braun, Brock, Buschman, Eek, Erik, Filatov, Freibach, Gerassimov, Gross, Grupp, Haas, Inn, Iverson, Jaanusson, Jakobson, Joonas, Juram, Jüris, Kallasse, Karki, Kartoffel, Kasak, Kask, Kattai, Kender, Kirk, Kirsipuu, Kivi, Klaasep, Klaasma, Kook, Koonik, Koop, Koorits, Korp, Kotkas, Kotõlõim, Kresla, Kukk, Kurvits, Kuusik, Kõomägi, Kühl, Laarman, Larina, Laul, Laving, Leepin, Lehepuu, Lekstein, Lentsius, Lilleman, Lillipuu, Luik, Luts, Madisson, Mahlapuu, Meister, Muhk, Muri, Must, Mürk, Naris, Niggul, Nirk, Nurk, Ode, Oja, Oluvere, Orgussaar, Pae, Pang, Parts, Pehk, Piks, Podirat, Põld, Pärna, Päss, Pästlane, Pääsuke, Raad, Rae, Rahula, Raidvere, Raja, Rand, Ribul, Ritson, Rode, Roosiorg, Rutnik, Saar, Saare, Saarmäe, Sepp, Siitan, Sillaots, Simson, Sisask, Sokkand, Suurorg, Tali, Talve, Talvik, Tamberg, Tamm, Telliskivi, Treumuth, Tromp, Uppin, Vaher, Vaide, Valgur, Vares, Varik, Vattis, Vereštšinski, Viilup.

Dear people of Valga County, this is why we have a mourning day. What is the meaning of the mourning day? This is not a weeping day of a defeated country or a defeated nation. It is a day when we look into the past in order to understand how many fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers we have lost. And still - so powerfully has Estonia straightened her shoulders, and regained her independence. And our independence, everything that we see around us today, carries the sacrifice, the hope of all those names, many and many thousands of names. Everything that they hoped for and never saw. We cannot have mourning days in January and in March and in December and in February. There have been so many mourning days in Estonia that we could in fact cover the whole year. We have our mourning day on June 14, and this is a provisional date. This is the day when we commemorate all those, whose life was severed, but who still live among us with their hopes and their deeds. As well as those who returned to us, and especially those who never did. Those who rest far away from home, in nameless graveyards that are still Estonian graveyards, just like the tombs of our heroes. This is the meaning of the mourning day. This is the meaning that should unite us all. And we should be united not with tearful eyes but with the feeling that we have prevailed despite the great forces, which the state that had never known democracy or law had mustered against us in order to destroy the people of Estonia. This is the meaning of the mourning day. We will never forget these victims, and they were many - 110,000 people of a nation of one million. And yet we can look into the past and into the future with pride today. The Republic of Estonia is not wealthy today. But the Republic of Estonia is free today. And today we can already see the life that will bear fruit in the future.

This afternoon, I visited a small school, about two dozen kilometres from here. I had the feeling that our shared past must become the strong force that unites our hopes and expectations, that strengthens us. This force will also give us the kind of strength that we may have wanted in 1939 and 1940. Namely the strength to defend our country if necessary. Our will to defend is our strongest defence against battles. It is still so that only the weak and those lacking the will to defend themselves will be attacked. This is the meaning of our mourning day. This is not our day of glory. But neither is it a day of sorrow or infamy. We have won, and they have lost. Let us remember this forever - we have won, because it was the will of the people. It was the will of our love of freedom. It united us, and a united nation is always the master of its present and its future. No army can conquer a united nation. This is the meaning of our mourning day.

And this, dear people of Valga County, was my short message to you. I would like to tell you how grateful I am to all of you for gathering here despite this bleak-looking weather. I would now like to call you here and to hand over the badge of Broken Cornflower to all those of you who returned alive from those harsh lessons of life. Cornflower has been the national flower of Estonia, the symbol of Estonia. Attempts have been made to break it, but it is not broken; it still blossoms in Estonia, it still blossoms in your hearts. And now, let us begin our simple procedure.


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