Estonia fought for its freedom after the First World War and regained the independence it lost in the 13th Century. This Big Fight was Vabadussõda (Vabadussõda – literally Freedom War) of 1918 -1920, which began nine months after the Declaration of Independence Feb. 24, 1918.
Almost 30 years later, Estonian exile communities that sprouted all over the world after the Second World War – in Australia, Europe, North America – have celebrated that single date as the focus of political and individual freedom that was lost after Nazi Germany and Communist Russia had colluded on Aug. 23, 1939 to walk over the smaller Baltic countries and start their own war, involving the whole world.
When members of historic fraternal organizations in Toronto’s Estonian community decided in 1957 to honour those who had fought in the War of Independence, a number of whom were then alive, a tradition was born. The sorrows of the Second World War were balanced by reminders of victories in Estonia’s first modern war. The cause was strengthened by the fact that university students as well as schoolboys had joined that struggle of 1918-20. Those same freedom fighters of long ago were the senior citizens in the exile community of 1957. Some had even participated in subsequent struggles keeping Estonia’s enemies at bay.
When the veterans of the Freedom War were beginning to disappear, these university-based fraternal organizations found a way to maintain their heroic legacy. They chose to honour those who had stood for Estonia’s difficult struggle to survive and maintain its independence and identity in the Second World War. Fortunately, the principal countries in the West never formally recognized the unhappy result that lasted for almost a half-century – the blatant incorporation of the Baltic countries into the Soviet Union. (Pikemalt saab lugeda Eesti Elu 28.veebruari paberlehest või veebilt)
A new generation and the spirit of veterans from long ago