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Mai Hallingby Harrison and Ilmar Vandere

Mai Hallingby Harrison and Ilmar Vanderer.  Photo by:  Joyce Brooks

The 90th Anniversary of Estonian Independence

New York City, February 28, 2008.  The Consulate General of the Republic of Estonia in New York presented An Estonian Jazz Concert in honor of the 90th Anniversary of Estonian Independence.  The concert took place at the Victor Borge Hall of the Scandinavia House,  which was followed by a cocktail reception.
Estonians, after being occupied by foreign powers for several centuries, were finally able to gain independence in 1918.  Using a favorable moment in history, Estonians  created a unified political entity in April 1917, with the ultimate aim of gaining full independence from the faltering Russian Empire.  Elections were soon organized to create a National Assembly (Maapaev).  In November 1917, The National Assembly, after being forced underground by the Bolsheviks, declared itself a provisional parliament.  Using the principle of self determination, highlighted in President Woodrow Wilson's historic "Fourteen Points", the Committee of Elders of the Assembly, meeting in the coastal city Parnu, issued a declaration of independence on February 24, 1918.  Much like the Americans, Estonians were forced to fight for their independence.  The War of Liberation (1918-1920), where Estonian men and women heroically fought to free their country against both the German Landeswehr and the Soviet Army, has become a great source of national pride.  Estonia did not fight alone.  The United kingdom  offered military supplies and the British Navy helped to secure Estonian shores.  The United States sent military liaisons to assist Estonia in her struggle for freedom, and eventually forty three Americans received The Red Cross of The War of Liberation and thirty U.S. officers received the Estonian Red Cross award for providing medical care and humanitarian aid during the war.
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