Galleries: Estonian Independence Day begins with flag-raising ceremonies ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

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Celebrations of the 101st birthday of the Republic of Estonia began early on Sunday morning, with well-attended festive sunrise flag-raising ceremonies held in both Tallinn and Narva.

The flag was raised atop Tall Hermann Tower at Tallinn's Toompea Castle at 7:34 EET.

President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor (SDE) gave a speech at the event in the Governor's Garden, where Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) Urmas Viilma also shared words of blessing.

The Estonian Declaration of Independence, known as the Manifesto to the Peoples of Estonia, was read by Tallinn City Theatre actor Kaspar Velberg.

Sunday also marked the 30th anniversary of the day when, following decades of occupation, the Estonian tricolor began to be flown from the iconic tower on 24 February again, sparking the current tradition.

A sunrise flag-raising ceremony was also held at the Northern Yard at Narva Castle, home to Estonia's easternmost flag.


ERR News has reproduced Mr Nestor's speech from the Governor's Garden in full below.

Estonia a strong country if we believe in it

Good morning and a happy day of celebration to everyone who has come to hoist the flag here on Toompea Hill, as well as to those at home. Today, our country is 101 years old. This 101 is in itself a jolly nice number, but today we can also be happy that exactly 30 years ago on 24 February, the anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, the flag returned on top of Tall Hermann Tower. And it is here to stay.


Estonia is a strong country if we believe in it. We need to believe like the thousands of singers, dancers and audience members who will touch us with their art during the jubilee Song Festival this summer. Or like the participants of the ESTO festival who will travel here this year from every corner of our beloved round planet Earth. They know that the Republic of Estonia is not a fragment from their grandmother's memories or a fairy tale from childhood, but a place that cherishes and appreciates them. And if some of them have not found the time to visit their Estonian home for many years, we should not be surprised if they are sincerely happy about what they see. They believe in Estonia.

But also believe in Estonia like the boys and girls who have come here this morning with their mums and dads to hoist the flag and sing the anthem. And believe in Estonia like those grandmothers and grandfathers who are struggling to sing the anthem together with their grandchildren because they are getting teary-eyed and their voice cracks with emotion. Singing might not work, but the heart is brimming over with joy, because you see that your life has had purpose. It is impossible to give your children anything more than freedom.

Believe in Estonia that is full of laughter and consideration for others. Understanding and creation. Freedom and respectful language. Care and determination. The thrill of Christmas and the excitement of Midsummer Night. Which unfortunately includes sad memories, but also merry expectations. The fun of doing things together, and love. Where we hear the beautiful sound of the Estonian language and where everyone feels at home.

Believe in Estonia where everyone can be who they want to be. A free human being in a free country. 

I wish you happy homes filled with joy. I believe in you, Estonia. Long live the Republic of Estonia!

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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