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Eesti sini-must-valge danced in a fair breeze welcoming everyone to the Seattle Estonian Society’s (SES) 101st celebration of Eesti Vabariigi aastapäev. On Sunday, February 24th multiple generations of Estonians and friends of Estonia joined to celebrate and commemorate the road to Estonian independence.


Esinaine Kristi Urv welcomed everyone to the afternoon gathering. The flag ceremony included children as well as their parents. Greetings and congratulations were brought by our Baltic brothers and sisters from Latvia and Lithuania. Professor Guntis Smidchens, a recipient of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, spoke on behalf of the University of Washington Baltic Program.


Our gifted segakoor (choir) celebrated the day by lifting their voices and sharing their songs. Their rendition of “Ta lendab mesipuu poole” brought tears to many eyes. (Remember our choir will be taking part in the 150th Song Festival in Eesti this summer.)


Next, following a long tradition, the community honored past members of the SES who fought in the war for Estonian independence. In earlier years, these veterans would attend our celebrations, standing at attention and receiving accolades from families and friends. Now, we honor their sacrifice by displaying their picture decorated by a sini-must-valge lint, a cornflower and a memorial candle that remains burning throughout the ceremony. We read out the names of our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers and hold a moment of silence.

 

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The Seattle Estonian community is blessed to have the Baltic Program at the University of Washington. The program’s Estonian language instructor, Dr. Linna-Ly Roos, brought three of her extraordinary students who read Estonian poetry. Fabulous work by the students and Dr. Roos. As we all know too, too well, Estonian is not the easiest of languages, however, Dr. Roos’ students were flawless, a credit to their teacher, the Baltic Program and their own hard work.


Our dancers, Tuhandest Tuulest, closed the afternoon with intricate folkdances. Noteworthy were two new members of the group, Alek and Koit. Hõissa, lapsed!


Everyone stood to sing, “Mu Isamaa“.


A light lunch was shared. Thank you to the many members of the community who invest their time and energies to making our gatherings such a success. Hõissa, SES!


Kristi Urv

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