An estimated 300 people braved the elements to take part in the Washington, DC community’s commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way. The event was organized by a team made up of representatives from the three Baltic embassies, the Estonian American National Council (EANC), the American Latvian Association (ALA), the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC), and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VoC).
The main speaker for the event was Estonian Ambassador Jonatan Vseviov. He evoked memories of the solemn period that began with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939, the Baltic nations’ 1989 protest in defiance of that pact, and the hope and courage that turned over a new page in the region’s history. He reminded us that the two powers that signed the pact are now gone while Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are still standing
strong. He concluded by saying that, “the message we are sending here today is not about the past…it is about the future. And that future for as long as we stay committed to our principles…is going to be characterized by our courage and our hope and not by the despair and fear that others wish to instill in our hearts.” Video of his full remarks is available on the Estonian Embassy in Washington’s Facebook page.
The Department of State’s Director for Nordic, Baltic and Arctic Security Affairs Erika Olson, and VoC’s Executive Director Marion Smith also made supportive and moving remarks. They commended the peaceful protest model set by the Baltic Way and drew parallels to current events in the region and around the globe. House Baltic Caucus co-chair Representative John Shimkus (R-IL) wrote a statement in support of the event that was read by JBANC Managing Director Karl Altau. After the remarks, the song of Baltic sisterhood, Ärgake Baltimaad, Bunda jau Baltija, Atmostas Baltija, was performed by local Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian singers, including Iira Reimann and Anna Maripuu of the Baltimore Washington Estonian Chorus.
EANC was represented at the event by President Marju Rink-Abel, former council members Kersti Linask and Lya Karm, and Washington, DC Director Karin Shuey. Participants traveled from as far away as Ohio and New York. Riigikogu member and former commander of the Estonian Defence Forces Johannes Kert was visiting Washington and took part. We know that commemorations also took place in Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Connecticut, Lakewood, Los Angeles, and Seattle. We thank all who participated in this historic anniversary and invite all to share photos to EANC’s Facebook page or via e-mail to Leelo Linask at firstname.lastname@example.org or Karin Shuey at email@example.com.