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We all have family – parents, grandparents and maybe even great grandparents. Today the oldest person in Estonia is 107 years old. Today, in Ehatare we have 10 Estonians over the age of 100. They were born in Estonia during Estonia’s indepdendence. Today, we wish Estonia Happy Birthday, and will review how Estonia became independent.

On the 23rd of February, 1918, it was announced on the balcony of the Endla Theatre that Estonia was declared independent.

The following day, on the 24th of February with blue, black and white flags waving Estonia established their government, with Konstantin Pats as the leader.

Estonia progressed and developed for 20 years, until the beginning of the second world war, where Estonia was under the oppressive Soviet regime for 50 years, losing their independence.

Just before midnight on August 20th, 1991, the Estonian Republic decided that they no longer belonged in the USSR, and declared themselves independent. Early in the morning on August 21st the Soviet Army marched towards Tallinn’s TV Tower. People all across Estonia rushed to protect and defend the tower. A handful of armed Estonian radio operators risked their lives by going to the top of the tower.

I was living in Tallinn, Estonia at the time and clearly remember that summer morning when the Soviet tanks rolled into Tallinn. The roads shook, as the Soviet soldiers rolled past Tartu north toward Tallinn to take the tower. Fortunately the Estonian people remained strong and united, and without orders from the Kremlin the Soviet troops left. I remember how worried everyone was. People stayed up all night to listen to their fate. No one believed that Estonia could be free and independent again. But, thanks to the strength and organization of the government Estonia gained her independence. It felt like a miracle. Now in Estonia, we are free to live – read, write and speak our language.

This year we celebrate 101 years of Estonian Independence. Happy Birthday to Estonia, and to Estonians all over the world. Let’s keep our language and culture. Let’s speak in Estonian, even if we make mistakes – the Estonian Language is beautiful. It is our language.

Eda Oja