Singing Revolution: The Sound of a Free Nation

Hungry for Connection

Today’s Estonia is the product of those voices: a free state eager for all the relationships—cultural, diplomatic and commercial—that German and Soviet occupations had denied it for half a century. Its economy is now modern, open and high-tech. If you’ve ever spoken on Skype, you’ve benefited from Estonian innovation. Geopolitically, Estonia is the lynchpin connecting the Baltic to northern and western Europe and Russia. It’s a member of the U.N. and NATO, and is a close ally of the U.S.

Tartu, EstoniaAnd, most surprisingly to some, its connection to the Nebraska Wesleyan community predates its independence. As the Singing Revolution was building, Estonian nationalists sought help from attorney Harry Huge (’59) in lobbying American support for their cause.

“This was a time when many leaders in Washington didn’t want to ruffle Gorbachev’s feathers,” Huge told Archways in spring 2006 (“Wesleyan Alumnus Receives Estonia’s Highest Honor”). “But when I told senators about the brave stand these young Estonians were taking, well, they very much wanted to support the good guys.”

For his efforts to make sure its singing revolutionaries had America’s accompaniment, Estonia honored Huge in 2006 with its highest award: the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana.

Huge’s connections to Estonia and NWU remain strong today. And the NWU board of governors member has helped create a new connection between NWU and Estonia’s premier institution, the University of Tartu.