A solemn ceremony to commemorate those who fell in the Estonian War of Independence and the 104th anniversary of the armistice between the Republic of Estonia and Soviet Russia was held on Tallinn's Freedom Square (Vabaduse väljak) on Wednesday.
During the ceremony, Estonian Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) placed a wreath "from the Estonian people" at the foot of the War of Independence Victory Column.
"On January 3, 1920, the rifles, machine guns, cannons and armored trains of Estonian soldiers fell silent in the War of Independence. A final truce began. A month later, the victory of Estonians was carved in stone with the Tartu Peace Treaty and a de facto new independent, progressive and peace-loving state emerged on the world map," Pevkur said in his speech.
The defense minister added that the War of Independence taught Estonians of the need to defend their land from aggressors, starting with the very first meter, as it is much harder to win it back later.
In addition to Pevkur, Karl Marten Kristenprun, a student at Tallinn Secondary School also spoke in the crisp frost on Freedom Square and Archbishop Urmas Viilma of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church gave a spiritual prayer.
Head of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) Gen. Martin Herem, and commander of the Estonian Defense League (Kaitseliit), Maj. Gen. Ilmar Tamm, also laid wreaths at the foot of the Victory Column.
The armistice with Soviet Russia was signed on December 31, 1919. The armistice agreement stipulated that hostilities on the front between Estonia and Soviet Russia would end at 10.30 a.m. on January 3, 1920. On February 2, 1920, a peace treaty was signed in Tartu and the War of Independence ended with an Estonian victory.
The tradition of holding a minute of silence each year on January 3 at 10.30 a.m., the time when the armistice came into force, began in the 1920s. The silence is held to honor both Estonians and foreigners who fought in the War of Independence and gave their lives for Estonian freedom.
In addition to Allied soldiers and volunteers, some 75,000 fighters took part in the War of Independence on the Estonian side. More than 6,000 lost their lives.
Editor: Michael Cole