Dear border guards,
Dear patriots of Latvia,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Eighty years ago, in summer of 1940, our dear Latvia and our people were about to face great dangers. Signing of the immoral Hitler-Stalin Pact on 23 August 1939 gave both repressive totalitarian regimes opportunity to divide the world. And USSR launched an appalling attack on Latvia.
Historic events forced each resident of Latvia to make a deeply personal and fateful choice right then and there.
Everyone had to make their own choice: either resolve to fight for Latvia and its future to the end or try to survive the aggression, adjust to the new system and keep some sense of normality.
We have gathered here today in Masļenki to honour the memory of our heroes, our border guards who stood their ground and fought for the Latvian border to the end, turning their guns on the overpowering and vile occupation force of Soviet Union.
The choice of our border guards – Valdis Grīnvalds, Kārlis Beizaks, Pēteris Cimoška and Jānis Macītis – was clear. They decided to fight.
Our border guards needed no orders or permission to defend Latvia. As soon as they saw Soviet occupation troops, they raised their guns to defend Latvia and its border.
They were not alone. There were many other border guards ready to defend Latvia: Augšpils patrol unit, border patrol unit led by Captain Rūdolfs Grīslis and others.
Unfortunately, those who had to show strongest resolve and openness to dialogue did the opposite and let their people down. The political leadership of Latvia decided to do nothing and conform. There was no fight against aggressor, no protests against what happened.
All news was heavily censored. Instead of reporting about open aggression of the neighbour and heroic acts of border guards the next day, news agencies downplayed the aggression, portraying it as a mere misunderstanding, a minor incident on the Latvian-Russian border.
Preamble of Satversme (Constitution of the Republic of Latvia) clearly states that Latvian people never recognised the occupation and actively resisted it.
That is when resistance against occupation and struggle for independence began 80 years ago right here.
Although outnumbered by aggressor, our border guards stood their ground here in the historic battle. They were the state of Latvia and people of Latvia, not the government leaders who sought compromise.
Jānis Macītis and his men embodied our people’s unshakeable national aspirations at this decisive moment.
I am deeply grateful to everyone who has done their best to preserve the historic memory of Masļenki incident, everyone who helped create and maintain this memorial, and all those who passed the knowledge of tragic events that happened here 80 years ago to the next generations.
I would like to urge everyone to keep working and write the names of these brave border guards into the history of Masļenki incident forever. Our nation must not forget the fight that had enormous historic, symbolic and constitutional significance.
We must always remember that Latvia did not surrender without a fight. We fought the aggressor from the first day, we fought for future of our state, and the fight began here.
Masļenki border patrol unit faced the aggressor and showed that the whole nation is ready to defend its state and protect the statehood, to face any enemy. Their sacrifice meant that any hope for dialogue is lost and we have to fight for Latvia.
We are standing at a place, a historic place, where we demonstrated our unshakeable determination to protect our state, to oppose foreign aggression and use of brutal force to deprive us of our freedom.
This is the place where faith in Latvia and belief in justice paved the way for our state continuity doctrine, demands for historic justice and restoration of independent Latvia.
Let us honour our heroes today and make sure their names are forever written in our historic memory.
May Latvia live forever!
I hope Masļenki border guards will always serve as our nation’s inspiration to keep protecting Latvia no matter what.