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The annual commemoration of Victory Day and St. John’s Day In Cleveland was held in the Estonian Cultural Garden.  Ours is one of 29 nationality gardens in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.  This event marked the end of our multiyear project to renovate the Estonian Cultural Garden.  Over the years, we have had Brian West of Still-Life Landscapes replace the crumbling sidewalk with an artfully laid flagstone walkway and planter. The Concrete and Mason’s Union 404 stripped and refinished the monument. They also assisted renowned sculptor David Deming (retired President of Cleveland Institute of Art) in mounting the new bronze flame. The landscapers finished their plantings in time for our annual June 24 gathering.   Particular thanks to Paula Tubalkain for pushing through the renovations and Erika Puussaar for being diligent in her duties as President of the Estonian Garden and serving in a leadership role in the Cleveland Cultural Garden Federation. The Cleveland Cultural Garden will mark its 100th anniversary next year and the Estonian garden will look its best for that event.  The Estonian Garden was dedicated in 1966. The monument celebrates ‘Kalevipoeg’, the Estonian national epic, with the words “Aga ükskord algab aega...”, the opening words of the final verse of the epic.  This verse looks forward to a time when Kalevipoeg returns to Estonia to bring happiness and unity to the Estonian people.  In his remarks, Toomas Tubalkain reminded the gathering of the movie, The Singing Revolution. Toward the beginning of the movie, there is a line about how this is a story of how culture defeated tyranny and might.  This monument to Estonian culture is in many ways a testament to the enduring will of a people, enslaved for over 600 years prior to a brief period of independence between the two world wars and a restoration of independence in 1990 after nearly 50 more years of suffering under Soviet Rule.  Estonia has only been independent for a little over 40 years during the last 700 years.  Estonian culture has remained strong through these centuries of foreign domination and enslavement of the people.  This has only been possible due to the spirit and character of the Estonian people, proud of their language and folklore, keeping the essence of being Estonian alive, often through subterfuge, like celebrating victory day quietly as part of the midsummer night Jaanipäev celebrations, when the Soviets ruled the land. This monument to Estonian Culture, created by the Cleveland Estonian group is a reflection of the national spirit that values culture above all else.  The Estonian Cultural Garden is once again a beautiful tribute to our homeland and a visible reminder to visitors of our small Estonian community in Cleveland, Ohio.   Toomas Tubalkain, Secretary of the Estonian Cultural Garden     

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