Gallery: Hikes commemorate War of Independence victories ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Some 200 people participated in hikes on Sunday along the historical battlefront of the Estonian War of Independence in commemoration of key battle victories that changed the course of the war.

In Järva County, the 15km hike began by Vodja Manor in honour of events that took place there exactly 100 years ago, reported ETV news broadcast Aktuaalne kaamera.

"This place is important because the Red Army did not get beyond this point," explained Indrek Kuuse, a history teacher at Vodja School. "This is where Estonians dug their heels into the ground and said, 'Here and no further!' And so it came to be, because the battles of 6 January had the [Red Army] turn heel and run in fear, not stopping until they had been run out of Estonia."

Järva County Museum research manager and historian Ründo Mülts said that combat on the Öötla-Vodja-Müüsleri front helped ensure the preservation of Estonian statehood as well as its eventual victory in the War of Independence.

"Müüsleri was on n 5 January 1919, or a day before today's events, which did end with casualties on the side defending Järva County," Mr Mülts said. "On 6 January, battles were waged in Vodja and Öötla, and in the end, the result on 11 January was that Järva County had been wiped clean of Bolsheviks. This was preceded by a battle in Puhmu, in Koeru Parish. In other words, four keywords in discussions about Järva County and the War of Independence."

Fair weather and a well-organised event attracted some 200 participants from across the country to join the hikes in Järva County.

"My children know nothing about war," said participant Karin Heinsaar. "Perhaps this is an opportunity to explain to my young son what happened once, that life hasn't always been beautiful and simple and peaceful."

Sunday's hikes were accomanpied by a victory flame, which was symbolically lit in Valkla, Harju County that morning and carried all the way to Punapargi battlefield near the Latvian border.

Official celebrations of the centennial of the Republic of Estonia will continue through 2 February 2020, which marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Tartu Peace Treaty in 1920. In 2019, centennial events will focus on the War of Independence.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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