Time puts things in their proper perspective. With this year’s decorations now awarded, this is twice true.
When, in 2009, president Toomas Hendrik Ilves decided to keep the decorations-list under hundred, many wondered. Up to them we had gotten used to somewhat longer lists, reaching 795 (by Lennart Meri in 2001) or even 834 persons (by Arnold Rüütel, 2006).
Back then, a mere hundred decorations seemed too few, Estonia being filled with people worthy of honour and state-level recognition.
Not that there are less of such people today. However, by now we may safely say that the four «short list years» have restored to the decorations their weight and value – slightly tarnished in times past. Presidential recognition is of a unique and special calibre – duly underlined by the present arrangements.
The other perspective honed by time has to do with deeds done decades ago. It has become a custom that the president gives one award retrospectively, for work by now long accomplished. This year, such honour went to Väino Sarnet, organiser of privatisations in Estonia, with Order of the White Star, 3rd Class.
Back in the 1990ies, the odd and uncomfortable privatisation process may have caused misunderstanding and confusion to many. Now, two decades later, no fault can be found with how things were organised.
The task was heavy, but it was completed – and rather well, especially as compared to the other Baltic States, for instance: as authors last year’s Estonian Human Development Report underlined, it was thanks to correct privatisation tactics that Estonian economy and politics avoided the grip of oligarchs, weighing hard on Latvia and Lithuania.
It can only be commended that the president undertook to venerate the privatisation process.
Over the years, many worthy people have been honoured by the state. Honorary decorations have developed nice traditions, the Office of the President has organised the proceedings with grace and dignity.
If anything, we would desire that the decorations – even the modest rosette badges – were worn more boldly. Pursuant to procedure for wearing orders and decorations, decorations shall be generally worn on festive national and social occasions.They should not be disregarded out of timidity or shyness, being a deserved token of esteem, a thank-you from the state to its outstanding sons and daughters.