President Alar Karis gave thanks to the nearly 150 people he honored with state decorations at a ceremony Thursday, June 23 – Võidupüha (Victory Day) in Estonia, expressing gratitude for their work in maintaining a free and democratic state.
Dubbed "Eesti tänab" ("Estonia thanks"), the ceremony took place at the cruise ferry terminal in Tallinn, with the head of state announcing that: "Decorations are a tribute to the people of Estonia and to our friends abroad, who, through their activities, have kept to the letter of our constitution and to the idea that the Estonian state is founded on freedom, justice and rights, the protection of internal and external peace, and is a pledge to present and future generations."
Karis thanked the 148 people being decorated, all of whom helped Estonian citizens and residents to feel safe, inspired, and free.
One recipient, Siiri, Tooming, commander of Naiskodukaitse – the women's branch of the volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit) and who had beeb awarded the Order of the White Star (Valgetäht) expressed thanks to the whole organization and satisfaction at the sheer number of women willing to contribute to national security at this time. Tooming received the honor after heading up a team which created a crisis preparedness app, entitled "Ole valmis" ("Be prepared").
Meanwhile, a reporter-cameraman team from public broadcaster ERR also attended the event after the reporter, Anton Aleksejev received the White Star decoration, for their coverage on the ground of the conflict in Ukraine, since the latest invasion started on February 24 this year.
Aleksejev called the honor a great privilege, pointing out that TV was a team event and noting that the cameraman, Kristjan Svirgsden, is often in an even riskier predicament than the reporter.
He said: "When we come under fire, I can just lie low. But for Kristjan, if he wants to get a picture, still has to stand up to some extent. So, in fact, I hope that maybe someday the operators will receive honors also."
The pair have been providing reportages from some of the conflict's hotspots, including Kharkiv and Kyiv, since it began.
Editor: Andrew Whyte