The Young Guard
President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers has always seen as one of his priorities the patriotism of young people and the need to help them to find appropriate ways of spending their free time. He is an active supporter of the Young Guard, which is Latvia’s largest youth organisation and operates under the wing of the Latvian Home Guard.
The Young Guard is organised and managed by the Latvian Defence Ministry. Its aim is to educate young people about national defence, patriotism, civic consciousness, partnership, courage, physical abilities and discipline. The Young Guard is also meant to ensure that young people are interested in military service, thus expanding the abilities of the Latvian Armed Forces to find motivated and professional personnel.
In 2008, President Zatlers was guest of honour at the 14th Assembly of the Young Guard. “I am delighted to see all of you young men and young women, standing up straight and being clear-eyed about the present day in 2008, when our Latvia is commemorating its 90th anniversary. Our country was established only because there were Latvian soldiers who fought in the liberation battles against various enemies. They protected our land against the Bolsheviks, the Germans and the forces of Pavel Bermont-Avalov. It is always true that if a country does not want to feed its own army, then it feeds the army of some other country. We are a proud nation, and we want our army to defend us now and in future. I am delighted that I see dedication, trust in yourselves and love for your motherland in your eyes. What is patriotism, after all? It means loving your motherland, feeling a sense of belonging in your country, and knowing clearly that you will work on behalf of Latvia and, if necessary, protect it, too,” President Zatlers said in his address before the young people.
The President became patron of the Young Guard in 2009. On March 6 of that year, President and Mrs Lilita Zatlere visited a memorial to Colonel Oskars Kalpaks, where candidates were admitted to the Young Guard.
As patron of the Young Guard, the President welcomed the 38 young people who were chosen for service, and he presented each Young Guard unit with a memorial sign. “You, the members of the Young Guard, are noble and proud. I know that even though you are excited right now, you are proud of yourselves and your country. Kalpaks remains alive today as a symbol of the armed forces and the liberation battles. We wish to be like him, because he inspired others in pursuit of the battle, creating belief and faith in the country.”
More than 7,300 young men and women are in Latvia’s Home Guard at this time. Theoretical lessons are taught at schools with which the Young Guard has a partnership agreement – 69 in all at this time. Practical activities are held on the grounds of National Armed Forces facilities, with professional instructors leading the process.