Military parade marks Latvia's Independence Day

Despite the rain, on Wednesday several thousand people gathered at the right bank of Daugava in Riga to watch the military parade traditionally held on November 18, the Latvian Independence Day, reported BNS. 

Over 1,000 soldiers, home guards, police officers, firefighters and youth guards participated in the parade, along with high-ranking officials like Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis, Latvian Chief of Defense Lt. Gen. Raimonds Graube, and others.

Honorable guests at the parade included Lt. Gen. John W. Nicholson, Jr., Commander of Allied Land Command; Lt. Gen. Tim Evans, Commander of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps; Lt. Gen. Manfred Hofmann, Commander of the Multinational Corps Northeast; and Maj. Gen. Gregory J. Vadnais, Adjutant General, Michigan National Guard.

In addition to the Latvian troops, allied soldiers were present as well – troops from Lithuania, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, France and the US.

The first four Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance-Tracked (CVRT) armored vehicles bought by Latvia from the UK participated in the parade, which also featured vehicles the ones brought to Latvia by the US troops as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

The air show featuring Latvian and allied aircraft was cancelled because of unfavorable weather conditions.

Prior to the parade, Latvia's President Raimonds Vējonis gave a speech, marking the need to stay alert and to be prepared to defend Latvia's independence, values and people. 

"Let us remember that today we no longer stand alone. We have received great support from our military allies,” the Latvian president said, pointing out that Latvian soldiers are participating in international military exercises and operations, showing their readiness to defend not only Latvia, but also every NATO member state.

"Let us be strong, proud and united in our love of our country and faith in its future," the Latvian president said, concluding his speech.

Independence Day celebrations will continue throughout the evening, with a presidential address by the Freedom Monument at 20:00, and singing the Latvian anthem at 21:00 by the bank of Daugava. The festivities will conclude with fireworks.

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