Like the flame in a torch, the orange paint burned on the tip of the brush held by a small hand; then with a delicate and graceful movement, the transforming weapon kissed for the first time the smooth and cold surface of the iron plate that made up the machine’s shell, making it lose its immaculate and locked in time.
With more energy than any explosion, a small line was enough to break an afternoon of August 21,1991 that had been preserved for posterity in the form of a war tank and snatched it back to the present, to the reconstructed nation celebrating 100 years of freedom, to independent Estonia.
Witness of countless golden sunsets, the machine received its first treatment of the new reality to separate itself from the past and make way for the future. Soon another stroke interrupted the olive green of the camouflage making the machine more visible and exposed. Inevitably more colors flitted on his metallic spine, led by many small hands that took him by storm and flitted around him like swallows claiming a tree.
The lines gave way to shapes, figures and names, in a few hours a multicolored revolution filled each recess and fold with armour. When the sun began to fall lazily on the horizon, the laughter filled the playground and the children climbed on the military beast with their naïve faces filled with the authentic happiness that gives hope to youth. Their Early age did not allow them to understand at that time their conquest, but for their parents, who accompanied them in the company and helped them by taking them by the waist to climb the armoury, filling the olive field of the tank with crazy tones meant much more, the gift of their children was not only their happiness, it was the confirmation that they lived in a free country.
They, who lived in a different Estonia where the voices did not echo and the color of the ideas peaked in the face of oppression, were the parents and grandparents of the new generation and in their tired smiles was perceived a happiness still infantile, as they lived it a little more than 20 years ago when their hands intertwined with those of a million and a half people to form the Baltic chain that travelled Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia with the
The action of people intertwined along 600km served to raise the voice of the people and contributed to the events that caused the political pressure of perestroika against communist conservatism to forge the night of August 19 in Moscow when the coup d’ état that sought to eliminate the desire for freedom of communist states was called.
The Baltic Chain, photo from Estonian Popular Front www.rahvarinne.ee/
While in the capital, the echo of Moscow, a radio station was taken by the KGB, it was civilians who spread the word about the coup d’ état and more importantly the news that a military column was heading for the western border of the USSR. Army units took over the roads and streets of the Baltic brother countries. At nightfall, strategic points of Latvia and Lithuania such as television and radio antennas had fallen into the possession of the Russian army but in Estonia, a handful of citizens bravely armed to defend democracy, barricaded themselves in the Tallinn Tower, a 314-meter-high titan that was created to broadcast the sailing events during the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Scared but with the firm conviction of protecting Estonia’s communications with other countries outside the block, civilians placed small matchbooks to lock the elevators and prevent the army from gaining access to the tower’s facilities. With the country being a witness and several tanks of war waiting at the base of the building, the Estonian heroes resisted the threats of the army and when the coup d’ état failed during the night of 20 August, Estonia’s supreme council announced that they would once again be an independent nation, at that time the tank resting in front of the tower, lost its war property and became a witness to the rebirth of a nation. The next day, the coup d’ état failed.
20 years later, the children smile with their parents as they paint the future of their country. Estonia celebrates its independence together with the locos who emigrated 9,640km from Mexico for the Mextonia festival. The tank is still there, in the atrium of the space needle guarded by an alien who invites the children to take possession of it, because it is theirs, as if it were theirs.