Sunday, March 28, 2010

Remembrance Day (70/100)

For a country with a relatively short history, Latvia has a lot to remember. It seems like every other day there is a flower-laying ceremony at the Freedom Monument, either in celebration or solemn remembrance. This picture shows younger Latvians forming a passage for the elders who are in a procession from the occupation museum to the Freedom Monument, flowers in hand. This took place on Thursday, which was a day of commemoration of the victims of communist terror. March 25, 1949 was one of the days of sudden mass deportation of Latvians to gulags in Siberia. (June 14, 1941 was another, so that's also a commemoration day.) There are at least twelve Remembrance Days through the year, in addition to the actual national holidays, and the "festive days," whatever those are.

Edited to remove snarky coda and add: Zigrida rightly points out below that this could seem like I'm implying that this commemoration is somehow not serious. I was just trying to give my friends back home a taste of one notable parts of living in Riga: There are a lot of memorial events, which is something you don't just run into on a regular basis in my hometown. That's something for us to be thankful about - we haven't suffered enough to need to remember so much. Apologies to any of my four other readers who felt I was being disrespectful.


Anonymous said...

I'm trying to figure out how I should take your comment.

Hopefully you sarcasm comes from your lack of knowledge not to be taken seriously.

My parents fled Latvia as soon as it was clear that the baltic countries where given away to the Russians after WWII.

For 50 years behind the iron curtain the rest of the world didn't have any idea what was happening there.

Russia still denies its participation and blames
everything on Hitler even when Stalin murdered his own people.

The younger generation already are oblivious of their own history.

My uncle who refused to leave just disappeared one day without a word.
I lit a candle on March 25th in his memory.

By the way flowers are more beautiful and fragrant in Latvia than they are in the USA.


Matt said...

Sorry if it seemed too sarcastic. There are a lot of ceremonies here, and for good reason. There really is a lot to remember in the short history of Latvia as a nation. I know a fair bit about Latvia's history, and I'm glad my country has never known occupation and suffering the way the Latvians have. That said, I can hardly keep track of all the different reasons that flowers pop up there on any given day, which is what I'm trying to say here.

Vic said...

Yet it seems the country has a short history in the present,its population here has been living for millennia...I'd recommend you to read Uldis Germanis "Latvian Saga", book available in English from a local historian that could help you understand a lot. in terms of Latvian thinking and behavior and appreciate more their Culture. The country has not a "happy" History like USA. Being in the middle of stronger Nations that from time to time, try to take over it. It has manage to fight those a hundred times bigger or armed than it. Russia the last one, with crimes here they don't want recognize. Learn as much as possible about Latvia, and you won't be disillusioned. It's example as a fighting country and Cultural too. Fascinating. :)