8 May is an important day in the history of Latvia and for the entire world. This is the day marking the defeat of Nazism and a day to commemorate the victims of World War II. This is the day when we recall and weigh the poignant history of Latvia – a land at the crossroads. On 8 May, when remembering the world’s greatest tragedy and commemorating the countless victims of appalling war crimes committed during World War II, we bow our heads to all those who perished, who fell or died a tragic death far away from home. On 8 May, we think of a lost generation, the devastating wars and the rise and domination of ideologies which were against human nature, have come at a great cost to people of Latvia. Peace and concordance are the supporting foundations for a Latvia that can ensure continual growth and security, irreversibly, for all times to come.
On 8 May 1945, the war in Europe came to an end and peace was restored. In Western Europe, nations regained their independence, but this was not the case with Latvia and other Baltic States. For Latvia, independence was restored only on 4 May 1990 and confirmed in Constitutional Law on 21 August 1991.
On 9 May 1950 in Paris, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman, being aware of the threat of a possible third world war, urged European countries to pool their coal and steel production with the aim of safeguarding peace and raising living standards. This was based on a conviction that development of the countries on the continent could only be fostered by peace not war. The first step was taken towards the eventual establishment of the European Union.
In 1985, it was decided that 9 May would be celebrated as Europe Day. This day symbolises unity and solidarity among various countries, including those that once were fighting with one another. Since 1 May 2004, when Latvia joined the European Union, 9 May is also celebrated as Europe Day in Latvia.
The following events have been planned this year:
At 11 am – a discussion with international experts at the Latvian War Museum entitled ″9 May – History, Politics, Propaganda? How is History Reflected Today?”.
At 11 am – an event to commemorate the victims of World War II at the Brothers’ Cemetery.
At 12.30 pm – a commemorative event at the Salaspils Memorial.
At 2 pm – a special concert at Sv Jāņa baznīca (St. John’s Church), “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace” by Karl Jenkins, performed by the Riga Professional Symphonic Band and State Choir ″Latvija”. An ecumenical church service will precede the concert.
From 11 am to 3 pm – Europe Day and Open Doors Day take place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission Representation, the European Parliament Information Office, the Embassies of some EU countries.
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