Contrast in ideals and values
Archived Articles 13 Jun 2008 Estonian Central Council in CanadaEWR
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Victory Day or Võidupüha marks the victory in the 1919 battle at C?sis (Võnnu) of the Estonian military forces and their allies over German forces who sought to re-assert Baltic-German control over the region.

The battle was decisive in winning the 1918-1920 War of Independence in which the primary enemy was Communist Russia, who had invaded Estonia in an attempt to deny it freedom. The defeat of the Russian Red Army and the Baltic-German Landeswehr and the signing of the Tartu Peace Treaty (in which Soviet Russia vows to honour Estonian independence in perpetuity), marked the successful achievement of Estonian’s independence after centuries of struggle. June 23, celebrated every year since 1934 as a public holiday, commemorates the contribution of all Estonians in their fight to regain and retain their independence.

Russia’s Victory Day on May 9 marks the day in 1945 when Russia “liberated Eastern Europe from fascism”. The victory is celebrated by exhibiting its massive military might, by parading rockets, long range canons, tanks, armoured vehicles, goose stepping soldiers – all the components that guarantee mass destruction. The more menacing the image in Moscow’s Red Square, the more successful the parade.

On May 9 in Estonia Red Army veterans and Russians would gather at the site of the War Memorial at Tõnismäe in central Tallinn. After the requisite placement of flowers, the crowd would gain ideological momentum through the enthusiastic consumption of vodka which would trigger reminiscences and longing for the Soviet period.

The Estonian Victory Day parade consists of units of the Defence League (Kaitseliit), a volunteer reserve force meant for territorial/local defence. Joining the Defence League this year will be some regular forces, police and border guard units. This parade does not have a comparable arsenal to display. It is expected that some NATO planes
Recently prominent ex-dissident Vladimir Bokovsky, on a visit to Estonia, suggested that Russia should find a more suitable enemy than Estonia. “Estonia and Georgia are at the top of the list of Russia’s enemies which is laughable, because everyone knows that these countries cannot be a threat to Russia,” he said.

The parade has been held for the past several years in small towns throughout Estonia, conveying the notion that freedom and independence was a goal of the whole Estonian nation, achieved by unified effort, not just by the political elite of the capital, Tallinn. Units of the Defence League are situated in localities around Estonia, are an integral part of their local community and signify the willingness of Estonians to defend their sovereignty wherever they be located.

Since it is the ninetieth anniversary year, the parade this year will be held in Tallinn.When the Soviet occupation of Estonia ended in 1991, Victory Day has been a substantial factor in re-establishing Estonia’s identity. For the defence forces, assigned to protect liberty and freedom, and for Estonians in general, the meaning of Võidupüha cannot be underestimated.
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