Egils Levits
Valsts prezidenta Egila Levita runa Latvijas Republikas proklamēšanas 102. gadadienā

Dear people of Latvia,

This year, due to the state of emergency, we have been forced to scale back the proclamation anniversary celebrations. We have been forced to pace our lives for a while. Everyone is struggling. But we need to bear with it, to save lives, protect health and the economy from even sharper decline in future. One thing is sure – this global crisis will be over next year.

And ‘God bless Latvia!’ resonates with our hearts as strongly as ever right now. It is our nation’s prayer, lines that speak of our people’s will and strength. A song that Constitutional Assembly chose as our national anthem a hundred years ago.

‘Let us dance for joy there’ our anthem says. Seems a little out of place right now, as we cannot be together and share the joy of our nation’s anniversary, witness army parade and festive fireworks.

Nevertheless, even in current situation, we think about these words. The same lines that we sing at times when we feel great happiness and enjoy our togetherness like the Song and Dance Festival.

The same lines as ‘Let us dance for joy there’ that Lidija Doroņina-Lasmane and many other Latvians in Siberian labour camps sang to themselves. Anthem was their source of hope, a safe place where to seek refuge in order to survive.

‘God bless Latvia!’ has been our anthem for hundred years, but it has echoed over our country during the times of peace, joy and great national tragedies for more than 150 years.

Our anthem is older than our state. It is a song that inspired the founding of the state. Some over-zealous censor of Russian Empire banned the use of Latvia in the beginning, allowing it to be substituted by Baltics. He must have sensed the energy that the word Latvia would spark in Latvians once it was sung aloud. Back then the idea of free Latvia was still relatively obscure and unknown.

Baumaņu Kārlis, composer of our national anthem, had managed to capture our longings in one word. A word that led to the state.

‘Let us dance for joy there, in our Latvia’ is the line that symbolises people’s desire and understanding of their rights.

The dream of dancing ‘in our Latvia’ came true on 18 November 1918. But we still had to fight for this dream in the War of Independence. Soon, next January, we will celebrate the centenary of the de iure recognition of Latvia when our natural rights were recognised internationally.

The idea of ‘Our Latvia’ survived occupation and our people sang it when we got our freedom back.

Dear people of Latvia,

The lines ‘Let us dance for joy there, in our Latvia’ in our anthem resemble a deeper concept of our being, our nation and our future.

We want to be free, unimpeded and unrestrained in our choices regarding our land and state – ‘our Latvia’. We seek no approval. It is our will.

Anthem does not speak about ‘my’ happiness. It is not egocentric. It speaks about us and ours. Latvia is ours. It is the place where all of us will be happy. A truly democratic statement. All of us together are creating Latvia the way we want it to be. A special place for us. Everyone is responsible for the common goals and for each other.

The concept of happiness in our national anthem is not comprised solely of our desires or dreams. It also resembles our determination and will. The will inherent in every human and nation a as a whole to aspire for better life and happiness. Happiness is the ever-elusive perfection that we constantly seek as we continue to push past our limits to make even more out of what we have. Perfection is something yet ahead for every one of us, we need to act today to make it a reality.

Dear people of Latvia,

What are the key values to navigate us through the uncertainty and change we are experiencing?

We need to care and look out for each other.

We need clear foresight to recognise new opportunities in current context.

We need to come together to make Latvia safe, proud and beautiful.

We need to be patient and remember that this too shall pass and crisis will be over soon.

Thank you, wherever you are, in cities and countryside of Latvia, Vidzeme, Kurzeme, Sēlija, Latgale or Zemgale, the whole wide world, everywhere where Latvians live and work multiplying the good in your and your family’s life, community and country!

Thank you for everything you do and all the love of our country!

My warmest congratulations to everyone!