Sunday, June 23 is victory day (Võidupüha) in Estonia, marking the anniversary of the 1919 Battle of Võnnu (near Cēsis, Latvia) over German forces, part of the Estonian War of Independence. Although it marks the important historical battle, the annual military parade also commemorates and recognises the contributions of all Estonians in their fight to regain and retain their independence.
The traditional parade held this time in Tartu, was presided over by Kersti Kaljulaid, Estonian president, who gave a speech. Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, defence minister Jüri Luik, speaker of the house Henn Põlluaas, Estonian NOC president Mr Urmas Sõõrumaa and Estonian Olympians Association president Mr Jüri Tamm were amongst those in attendance.
The Estonian Defence Forces (EDF), as well as members of the voluntary Defence League (Kaitseliit) and affiliated units including the Women's Home Defence (Naiskodukaitse ), the Young Eagles (Noored Kotkad) and the Home Daughters (Kodutütred), all participated in the parade, together with military bands.
At the same time the memorial torch and the traditional ancient torch were united to become, the Victory Day torch as well as the torchbearers received Victory Day medals.
Celebrating the 125th anniversary of the establishment of the International Olympic Committee and the idea of creating a modern Olympic Games, this time the torchbearers were athletes. Estonian NOC was also present, three-time Olympic athlete, biathlete Kauri Kõiv and orienteerer Daisy Kudre were among 16 torchbearers whose torch was lit by Estonian president, Kersti Kaljulaid.
“I was excited because the responsibility was huge. Victory Day has always been an important day for me,” said Kudre. Kõiv, who recently retired from biathlon, said that the task was not very complicated, but it was an honor.
The torch was brought to Tallinn Olympic Sailing Center where Aleksander Tammert, olympic bronze 2004 in discus, re-ignited the Olympic flame. Olympic cauldron of the 1980 Olympic sailing regatta had extensive renovation and construction works last year resulting in refurbished interior and exterior, and 1980 Olympic sailing winners’ name plaques have also been repaired.
“I would like the Olympic flame to keep burning in our hearts and souls, driving us towards a better world and better us. Happy Olympic Day! Happy Victory Day!,” Mr Sõõrumaa said.