TALLIN, Estonia — Yesterday evening I was wandering around Tallin, Estonia when I came upon a very heavily armed policeman who was standing among low-hanging branches of a tree that obscured his face.

A little creeped out by this, I walked on and noticed a formally dressed crowd standing quietly around a statue. On the statue’s long, rectangular base appeared to be inscriptions, but they were covered by bouquets of flowers. Lighted candles burned on the ground.

The statue itself was an odd thing: a narrow, rectangular shaft about three feet by one foot, springing from the base and curving for a few yards over a field until it suddenly ended in mid-air.

I walked further and ran into another heavily armed policeman, and this time I decided to ask him what was going on. He took a second to answer, I think both surprised that I was talking to him and needing a moment to arrange his words in English.

When he was ready, he looked at me very solemnly and with great reverence said, “It’s for the memorial. The ‘Estonia,’ the ship, it sank 23 years ago today.”


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Featured image courtesy of the Tourism Board of Estonia