11 November, which is celebrated as Lāčplēsis Day in Latvia, is a special day, when Latvians commemorate the soldiers who died protecting the newly-founded Latvian state. On this day, Latvians can feel proud of the bravery of their country’s defenders. This is the day when we can see in each soldier’s eyes the will to defend their country, says President of Latvia Raimonds Vejonis.
«The post-WWI era brought new tendencies to Europe. Countries that were reaching out for freedom for years finally became independent. Latvia was born in 1918, but the war did not end with its foundation. The newly-founded country was attacked from the east and the west. Latvia’s freedom was brittle. Today we can all feel proud of the brave men that were prepared to fight and die for an independent and free Latvia. They were ready to fight for their country with weapons in hand!» – said Vejonis in his speech to Latvian soldiers and residents.
«Among those brave soldiers were 14 to 20 year old boys from Valmiera and Cesis. Those soldiers fought without asking for any rewards. Instead, they wished to become the protectors of their homeland, just like Latvian Riflemen before them one hundred years ago. Let us commemorate those who fought and died for Latvia’s freedom, especially Col. Oskars Kalpaks and Jorgis Zemitans, Generals Janis Balodis and Peteris Radzins, who, knowing the overwhelming odds against them and believing in the idea of their homeland, managed to lead Latvia’s forces to victory. It is thanks to their commitment and bravery that we can celebrate Lāčplēsis Day today!» – said Vejonis.
«We now live a free country. We had won our freedom in battle, but a country’s freedom is not something to be taken for granted! Although our country’s independence is not threatened in any direct way by any military force, we have to be ready and able to defend ourselves and our country with our allies. We have to be strong and clever; we have to be ready to cooperate with others as we are now part of the European Union and NATO,» – added Vejonis, expressing his certainty that Latvia’s army and every soldier in it is brave, professional and selfless.