According to the Latvian Ministry of Defence, this year’s 4 May National Armed Forces Day, which also marks the 28th anniversary of restoration of Latvia’s independence, will be held in Madona. The military parade will be broadcast live on the Latvian Television.
Several years ago, defence sector began a new tradition of marking the Restoration of Independence on 4 May by going out to one of Latvia’s regions to celebrate the National Armed Forces Day as a way of showcasing the Latvian army to those Latvians, who cannot attend the traditional 18 November Independence Day parade in Riga.
In 2012, the first Freedom Celebration took place in Rēzekne, then, next year, it travelled to Kuldīga. In 2014, Latvian army had its Freedom Celebration in Valmiera. 2015 celebration went to Jelgava to mark the 750 years since founding of the city. Krāslava hosted the 2016 National Armed Forces Day and a year later celebration came to Liepāja.
4 May Freedom Celebration, or the Latvian National Armed Forces Day in Madona, will start at 9:00 with Latvia’s independence declaration thanksgiving service at Christ the King Catholic Church of Madona. Parade of Latvian and foreign military, State Border Guard, State Police, State Fire and Rescue Service, Youth Guard, and their service vehicles, will start at 11:00.
More than 700 soldiers, National Guard members, border guards, policemen, fire fighters and Youth Guard members will march in the parade under the command of Colonel Mareks Ozoliņš, Commander of the Vidzeme 2nd Brigade of National Guard. Parade will be watched by H.E. Raimonds Vējonis, President of the Republic of Latvia and Commander-in-Chief of the Latvian Armed Forces, Raimonds Bergmanis, Minister for Defence and Lieutenant General Leonīds Kalniņš, Chief of the Defence Staff.
Parade will be led by soldiers and members of the Vidzeme 2nd Brigade of National Guard, who will carry the flag of the National Armed Forces, followed by 25th Infantry Battalion, 22nd Logistics Battalion, 27th Infantry Battalion, 31st Infantry Battalion, 54th Combat Support Battalion, Staff Command Battalion, Air Force, Training and Doctrine Command, Latvia National Defence Academy, Land Force Mechanised Infantry Brigade, NATO eFP battle group Latvia, State Border Guard, State Police, State Fire and Rescue Service and Youth Guard units.
Parade will conclude with armoured vehicles, equipment and transport vehicles of Latvian army and allied force, State Police, State Border Guard and State Fire and Rescue Service, who will fly their service aircraft only if weather conditions a good and lead to no harm to public watching the parade. Aircraft will include Mi-17 helicopters of National Air Force, Agusta Bell 206B and Agusta 109E Power helicopters operated by State Border Guard and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters of US army, which were also used during the US-led Operation Atlantic Resolve.
During the parade, Latvian army will also showcase its self-propelled howitzers procured from Austria to promote the indirect fire support capabilities of the National Armed forces and Latvia’s full integration into NATO operations and training. If you come to the parade, you will also see Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) units purchased by the Latvian army from the UK as part of its Land Force mechanisation project.
Those watching the parade will also be able to see the armoured vehicles used by allied forces, such as Pizarro infantry fighting vehicles operated by the Spanish troops, light armoured combat vehicles used by Canadian forces and armoured vehicles deployed to Latvia by Slovenian and Albanian army. State Police will showcase its service vehicles during the parade. State Fire and Rescue Service will demonstrate it Nissan X-TRAIL and ATV Polaris Ranger 800. State Border Guard will also show its ATV, Arctic Cat 400, and Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Hilux SUVs with snow mobiles and boats during the parade. If flying conditions will be good, vehicle parade will conclude with flyover of NATO planes that are part of the NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission.
Parade will be accompanied by the National Armed Force Orchestra.
Military equipment, weapons and vehicles will be displayed at the Madona District Council building on Community Square, Daugava Street by the outdoor hockey rink and Madona Cart Track from 12:30 to 16:00. Visitors of the military exhibition will have an opportunity to see M109A5Oe-type self-propelled howitzers and Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) units operated by the National Armed Forces, tanks of Spanish and Polish armed forces, as well as military vehicles used by Canadian-led NATO eFP battle group Latvia.
Marching band of the National Armed Force Orchestra will perform at 12:30 at the Madona District Council building. To see the Staff Command Guards of Honour march, come to Council building at 13:00. State Border Guard and State Police will show off their canine units and close combat skills at the Madona District Council building on Community Square between 13:30 and 15:00. You can also go to Madona Cart Track where starting from 15:00 you will see the military air show of National Armed Forces and State Border Guard. Shows, however, may be cancelled due to bad weather conditions. Exhibition match between FC Madona and NATO eFP battle group Latvia team at Madona Arena will start at 16:00.
Rehearsal of the National Armed Forces Day parade will take place on 3 May, at 20:00. It will be preceded by a Freedom Celebration performance of National Armed Forces Orchestra at the Madona Culture Centre at 18:00 for all guests and inhabitants of Madona. As usual, Latvian army will not charge any entrance fees from those coming to performance. You will, however, need a ticket, which you can get for free from 25 April at the ticket booth of Madona Culture Centre.
National Armed Forces Day in Madona is organised jointly by National Armed Forces, Ministry of Defence, Interior Ministry and Madona District Council.
Since 2013, the motto of the National Armed Forces Day is 4 May – Freedom Celebration, borrowed from an awareness raising campaign recently launched by SIA TV3 Latvija after Ministry of Defence joined the project.
National Armed Forces would like to underline that military aircraft flying above Latvia must comply with applicable altitude and speed requirements. And, although such flying craft may create temporary noise, it is harmless to human health and property. Parade and air show will comply with said requirements.