Valdis Zatlers

Valdis Zatlers

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The “Heartbeats for the Baltic States” Unity Run

August 23, 2009, was the 20th anniversary of the Baltic Way, where more than one million people linked hands in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in a 600-kilometre chain from Tallinn in the North to Vilnius in the  South.  This was an example of non-violent resistance and a symbol of the yearning of the Baltic peoples for freedom.  In order to remind people of the historically and emotionally important event and to allow younger generations to feel a similar sense of unity, President Zatlers initiated the “Heartbeats for the Baltic States” unity run on August 23, 2009. The process once again involved people in all three Baltic States, with each person in the three countries being asked to run one kilometre in support of Baltic unity. 
The starting pistol was fired by the presidents of Estonia and Lithuania in Tallinn and Vilnius respectively, and 24 hours later, the run concluded at the Freedom Monument in Rīga, where President Zatlers and thousands of Latvian patriots ran the last kilometre of the run.

“Heartbeats for the Baltic States” once again allowed people in the Baltic States to feel a sense of unity in remembering their struggle for freedom.  The fact of national pride was in full evidence.  Those who did not take part in the Baltic Way 20 years ago had their own Baltic Way, because only by being a part of the crowd could people truly feel the unity of the Baltic peoples on their way toward freedom.  More than 60,000 runners took part in the run, the majority of whom (around 50,000 were in Latvia).
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