Coming up on Monday, November 18th is Latvia’s Independence Day.
It marks the anniversary of the Proclamation of Independence of Latvia that took place in 1918. Every year since there has been a military parade on this day as well as other national celebrations. Of course, during the time when Latvia went through various occupations things were very different. All of the Latvians living in the U.S. usually celebrate this day the weekend before since it cannot be a holiday for them in the states.
On November 18th there are various kinds of events that take place all over Latvia and especially in the capital, Riga. The celebrations begin in Riga in the first half of the day with a parade and flowers are put down at one of the best-known landmarks The Freedom Monument with the participation of the President of Latvia and other government officials.
In the afternoon there is the National Armed Forces Parade at the 11th November Embankment. In the evening there is a torchlight procession and the celebration ends with a colorful and magnificent fireworks display over the Daugava River as Latvian citizens gather on the river banks and on the bridges to get the best views. On this day all of the public transportation is free of charge so everyone can have a chance to participate and view all of the celebrations.
It is also a sad day of memory for me. When I was 10 on November 15, 1967, my dad died. He was a well-known Latvian poet and writer Eriks Raisters and a great patriot. We lived in Brooklyn, New York then and his funeral was right on November 18th. If dad had to go that is the way he would have wanted it.
My own photo of the Freedom Monument