Gallery: Estonia celebrates its Independence Day
Hoisting the flag at sunrise, laying of wreaths at the Victory Column, the Independence Day parade, award ceremonies, the grand concert in Estonia Concert Hall, the President's speech and reception: Estonia had a busy day on Wednesday.
The 98th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia began at 7:34 a.m., at sunrise. Traditionally, the Estonian flag flies from sunrise to sunset. On Wednesday, hundreds of people watched as the flag was raised on the Pikk Hermann Tower on Tallinn's Toompea hill.
At exactly the same time, Estonian troops currently serving with the UN peacekeeping mission in South Lebanon hoisted the flag on their base as well. After the ceremony, they talked to President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and commander of the Defence Forces Lt. Gen. Riho Terras via videolink.
The ceremony on Toompea was followed by a march of the various corporations and groups that had attended it down to Freedom Square, where President Ilves, President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor (SDE), Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas (Reform), and various members of the government as well as representatives of different religious groups laid wreaths.
At 12 o'clock midday the military parade began, with more than 1100 soldiers and officers participating. The armed forces and air forces of several NATO allies took part in the parade as well, which included a fly-over of helicopters, fighter jets and other aircraft.
At 5:30 p.m. the Independence Day concert began in Estonia Concert Hall. President Ilves held his last speech on the occasion, and later received the invited guests.