The Ministry of Defense invites residents to wear the ribbon (with the corners facing upward) in celebration of the 104th anniversary of the decisive victory of the Latvian army in the War of Independence, and in remembrance of those who have fallen in the line of duty for Latvia.
The opening of a series of commemorations will take place on Monday, November 6, at 2 p.m. in the square near the Latvian War Museum, where the War of Independence commemorative bonfire will be lit, which will continue to burn until November 11. On November 6, from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., an exhibition of military equipment and equipment of the Latvian and allied armed forces will be on display. The exhibition will also be open on November 11 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Lāčplēsis Day, November 11, will begin with an ecumenical service at Riga Cathedral at 9:00 a.m. after which the Minister of Defense Andris Sprūds and the Commander of the National Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Leonids Kalniņš, will lay wreaths at the Riga Brothers' Cemetery near the Eternal Flame, honoring the Latvian soldiers who gave their lives for Latvia's freedom and independence with a moment of silence.
At 12:00 p.m. at the Freedom Monument and at 1:00 p.m. at Riga Castle, the ceremonial changing of the guard of honor will take place.
At 18.00, Latvian Television will broadcast from the Riga Brothers' Cemetery, and at the same time, at the "Lielā gilde" concert hall, the Lāčplēša Day concert "Sounds of Freedom" will take place.
From 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., a concert of young music bands "Tu esi mana Latvija!" (You are my Latvia!) will take place in the square near the Latvian War Museum.
In addition, many people will light candles at Rīga Castle and other sites across the country.
In the period from November 11 to 18, anyone interested is invited to visit the Latvian War Museum, where there will be thematic excursions, lectures, various classes related to the history of Latvia's independence.
On the anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Latvia, on November 18, the Ministry of Defense invites the citizens of Latvia to go to the Daugava embankment to watch the military parade, which will be attended by soldiers and military equipment of both Latvian and allied armed forces, as well as representatives and equipment of the subordinate services of the Ministry of the Interior.
Along with the military parade, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., an exhibition of the equipment of the National Armed Forces and the State Border Guard will be on display at the Riga Passenger Port.
What is Lāčplēsis Day?
Known as 'Lāčplēša diena' or 'Lāčplēsis Day' (Lāčplēsis being the name of Latvia's mythical warrior hero), November 11 coincides with the date upon which the 1918 Armistice at the end of the First World War is commemorated in many other countries. However, the Latvian events are subtly different, officially marking the day a year later in 1919 when a crucial victory against joint German and White Russian forces under Count Pavel Bermondt-Avalov was won by the fledgling republic of Latvia, which had declared independence a year earlier.
During the decisive battles in and around Rīga, Latvia lost 743 soldiers, of whom 57 were officers, according to the Latvian Army.
It is often observed that though 1918 is regarded as the final year of World War One, in Latvia harsh military conflicts continued for a considerable period after that date, with Latvia receiving crucial support from its northern neighbor, Estonia, to repel not only the West Russian Volunteer Army but the Red Army, too.
Latvia also received valuable assistance from British and French warships. Later, in 1920, Polish troops helped the Latvian Army expel the Red Army from Daugavpils and the surrounding area before ceasefires with Germany and Soviet Russia were eventually signed.
But as with other remembrance events, Lāčplēsis Day is not only a day of historical commemoration but is also used to express appreciation for the service and sacrifice of all those who have served in the armed forces since and who do so today.
More details about the historical context and meaning of Lāčplēsis Day can be found in this excellent online timeline of events.