With parade canceled, Defence League celebrates Victory Day across Estonia

Lighting the Victory Day fire
Lighting the Victory Day fire Source: mil.ee

This year's Estonian Defence League (Kaitseliit) Victory Day (Võidupüha) parade, planned to take place in Paide, was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic but the victory fire will still be lit and dispatched from Kadriorg Palace on June 23.

The Victory Day celebration events will begin on June 23 at 7 a.m. with the traditional flag raising ceremony atop Pikk Hermann tower at Toompea in Tallinn.

Prime minister Jüri Ratas, defense minister Jüri Luik, Riigikogu speaker Henn Põlluaas, and commander of the Estonian Defense Forces, Maj. Gen. Martin Herem will be in attendance at Toompea.

After, Young Eagles (Noored Kotkad) will light an ancient light and will receive victory light medals from the defense minister and commander of the Estonian Defense Forces. A total of 32 medals will be given out. To celebrate the 90th birthday of the Defence League's youth organization, the victory fire is handled by the best Young Eagle and Eagle Leaders of each region.

At 9.30 p.m. an ecumenical service will be held in the ruins of Pirita Convent (Pirita klooster), where Archbishop Urmas Viilma, head of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lt. Col. Aivar Sarapik, High Priest of the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church, Raivo Nikiforov, Senior Chaplain of the Estonian Defence League, and Artur Lillenurm, Lieutenant Colonel, member of the Roman Catholic Church, will speak.

At 11 a.m. the ancient light and victory light will be joined into a victory fire at the presidential palace at Kadriorg, after which the president will send victory fires out to each county.

Events organized by the Defence League's for Victory Day will finish with the fires reaching each county.

Neeme Brus, deputy head of strategic communications at the Defence League, said: "The fires should reach county centers by late afternoon or evening."

Victory Day (Võidupüha) marks the decisive battle during the Estonian War of Independence in which the country's military forces and their allies defeated the German forces who sought to re-assert control over the region.

The day has been celebrated on June 23 every year from 1934 until 1939 and then again after the restoration of Estonian independence from 1992.

Although it marks the important historical battle, the annual parades also commemorate and recognize the contributions of all Estonians in their fight to regain and retain their independence.

The celebrations of Võidupüha are also ceremonially tied to the celebrations of jaanipäev.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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