30 years ago today, the non-violent Singing Revolution for Baltic independence reached a peak when Latvians, Estonians, and Lithuanians joined hands to form a 400-mile human chain connecting the three capitals.
Called The Baltic Way, it united two million people, roughly a quarter of the total population of the 3 states along the 650-km chain—from Tallinn through Riga to Vilniusin—in a successful bid for democracy and to end Soviet occupation. The emotionally captivating and visually stunning scene of people lining roadways publicized the unpopular Soviet rule as not only a political matter, but also as a moral, human rights issue. WATCH a video and learn more about this inspiring protest… (1989)
The demonstration marked the 50th anniversary of the secret ‘Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact’ between Stalinist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, which carved up Eastern Europe into spheres of influence and led to the occupation of the Baltic states after World War II. The event, organized by Baltic pro-independence movements, was designed to draw global attention to the region by demonstrating a popular desire for independence in each of the three nations, and symbolizing the solidarity among them.
On the day of the event, special radio broadcasts helped to coordinate the effort, free bus rides were sponsored in rural areas, and Estonia declared a public holiday. The demonstrators peacefully linked hands for 15 minutes, while elsewhere, priests held masses or rang church bells. The Soviet authorities responded to the event with intense rhetoric, but within six months of the protest, Lithuania became the first of the Soviet republics to declare independence. Within a year, the Soviets allowed elections in all three Baltic states, which toppled Communist control and won the Baltic states their independence.
More Good News from this date in History:
- Mexico gained its independence from Spain (1821)
- World Council of Churches formed (1948)
- Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground performed together for the last time at the New York Club ‘Max’s Kansas City’ (1970)
- Armenia declared its independence, becoming the first non-Baltic republic to secede from the Soviet Union, which dissolved the following year, allowing the Republic of Armenia to choose its first democratically elected president (1990)
- West and East Germany announced that they soon would become a united Germany once again (1990)
- The World Wide Web opened to the public when Tim Berners-Lee, a 36 year-old English computer scientist, opened his WWW protocol to new users at no cost (1991)
- Eugene Bullard, the only black pilot in World War I, was posthumously commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force (1994)
- Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in a civil war (2011)
- And, Happy 70th Birthday to Rick Springfield, the actor and singer, whose 1981 hit Jessie’s Girl rocketed him to fame (1949)
Also on this day in 1993, Dennis Eckersley, who previously set a Major League Baseball record for most consecutive saves (40), became the first pitcher ever to record 40 saves in four separate seasons. Known for his championship play for the Oakland A’s, “Eck” played for five different teams in his 23-year career.
Born in San Francisco, the now 63-year-old won nearly every award in baseball during a career which was unique in that he was the first of two pitchers in MLB history to have logged both a 20-win season and a 50-save season as a starter-turned-reliever.
And, Happy 41st Birthday to basketball legend Kobe Bryant, who helped the Los Angeles Lakers win three straight NBA Championships from 2000 to 2002 and two more in 2009 and 2010. He also won an Oscar last year for Best Animated Short film, ‘Dear Basketball‘. WATCH his speech at the Academy Awards… (1978)