Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana

On the first of February (the eve of Independence Day), the Republic of Estonia honored 99 people with the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana (Maarjamaa Risti teenetemärk in Estonian and Māras zemes krusta ordenis in Latvian). This decoration was instituted in 1995 to honor the independence of the Estonian state, and the highest class (of six), the Collar of the Order, is bestowed upon the President of the Republic. The five classes of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana are given as a decoration of the highest class on non-Estonian citizens who have rendered special services to the Republic of Estonia.

Collar of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana
Source: Wikipedia

I am extremely proud to announce that my uncle, Guntis Šmidchens, was one of the recipients of this award. The President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, signed a resolution to give the state decorations; “As the Head of State, I consider the decorations of the Republic of Estonia to be the highest gratitude and acknowledgement of the Republic of Estonia to people from Estonia and other countries, whose work and activities have contributed to a better, safer and richer Estonia and, in a number of cases, the nominees of the decorations have expressed special personal courage. They have done more that their work would have assumed them to do.”

Guntis is a professor at the University of Washington and one of the founders of the Baltic study program there. He joins the ranks of distinguished persons such as former Latvian presidents Valdis Zatlers, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga and Guntis Ulmanis, as well as former US president George W. Bush as recipients of this decoration.

The announcement comes on the heels of another major accomplishment, receiving tenure at the University. Apsveicu Gunti! We are so very proud of your accomplishments and wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Link to offical press release here.
Link to official declaration by President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, in Estonian here.
Link to list of former recipients here.


  1. Talk about an inspirational individual! Yay Gunti!

  2. Congratulations to your uncle! A big honour indeed.


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