Dear friends, people of Jūrmala,
Dear project creators and curators,
Dear designer and architect,
Dear local leaders,
It is my great pleasure to take part in the unveiling of Aspazija sculpture here today. Aspazija is Jūrmala. Jūrmala is a peculiar Latvian town that combines, as Mr Truksnis already mentioned quoting one of Aspazija’s poems, unparalleled, unique nature and culture. I recently visited the new Cultural Quarter. It plays an enormous cultural role and is vital for people living in Jūrmala. And I am absolutely certain that people from Riga and other Latvian places will also be very much interested in events happening in this Cultural Quarter now and in future.
Jūrmala is Aspazija’s town. She spent the latter part of her life here. I can see her taking this trail to reach the sea because this is the shortest route. That is why from now on her sculpture will grace this place so that all of us can greet her on our way to the sea. Aspazija is one of the greatest and the most versatile Latvian artists. A writer. But I don't think I should be focusing on that because we all know that she was a poet and left a tremendous footprint in Latvian literature. And she was also a prominent public figure and politician. There is a clear distinction between the both for me. A public figure is somebody we would call a social activist today. Somebody who represents a non-governmental organisation, a member of the civic society or an opinion leader. And Aspazija perfectly matches this description. An avid advocate of female emancipation, democracy and national independence of Latvia. She did it because she had her own vision of what Latvian society should look like. She was also a politician, a member of the Constitutional Assembly. We are using the same constitution to this day thanks to Aspazija, among others. We can feel her touch every time we, for example, vote in general elections or exercise one of our rights.
I want to say a huge thank you to Jūrmala History and Art Society for conceiving the idea. You, like Aspazija herself, are part of Jūrmala’s civic society that brings local heritage to the people near and far, thrusting it into the spotlight. The main value of heritage is in seeing and feeling it. And it is crucial for making this town even more visible, more attractive than it already is, with this kind of artwork. Thank you for what you are doing! And thank you to local leaders who are ready to support the national culture.
May all of you enjoy a nice chat as you walk by Aspazija down to the sea!