This week, national flags have been raised on the country’s highest communication towers and, weather permitting, the flags will fly on 15 towers until November 21, informs VAS Latvian State Radio and Television Center (hereinafter – LVRTC). Traditionally, the flag will be raised only on the morning of November 18 on the highest flagpole in Riga, Zaķusala, and in the European Union, and will fly for one day.
Flags fly in the towers of Valmiera, Daugavpils, Liepāja, Cesvaine, Ventspils, Rēzekne and Tukuma, as well as towers and masts in Sigulda, Viļani, Preiļi, Līvāni, Viesīte and Jelgava, as well as in Riga – the only communication tower in the historical center of the city on Ārgli Street. The height of the Valmiera, Cesvaine, Rēzekne and Daugavpils towers exceeds 200m, and in these towers the flag is raised as big as the Zaķusala TV tower – 3x6m.
* Daugavpils tower
Raising the flags has become a beautiful tradition, which LVRTC implements on November 18 and May 4. The tradition started in 2014, when for the first time a 3×6 meter wide national flag was raised on the Zaķusala TV tower – at a height of 368m. In honor of the country’s centenary in 2018, LVRTC also equipped its other tallest towers with flagpoles and lighting.
The flags on the communication towers of Latvia are both a festive decoration, visible to citizens even from a great distance, and a reminder of the importance of the LVRTC communication infrastructure in the availability of free information, building and strengthening the information society, which is an inalienable fundamental value of a democratic and sovereign state.
The raising of the flag is often affected by the weather, as work at height is impossible when the wind speed exceeds 12 meters per second. Every year during the holiday week in November, the wind largely determines the hoisting schedule and often serves as the reason why the flag is not raised on one of the towers. “The lowest tower where we raise the flag is 57 meters high, while the highest reaches almost 370m. Weather conditions at a height of 100 and 200 meters can be significantly different from the weather conditions on the ground, so there have often been situations when residents call and ask why the flag has not been raised in their city, because there is no sign of special hydrological or meteorological conditions on the ground. We are also approached by patriotic residents who would like the flag to fly in the towers for the whole month. Unfortunately, the autumn wind is very unkind to the flags, so we raise them shortly before the holiday and take them down right after them. Raising the flags in the towers is carried out by LVRTC engineers, high climbers, whose daily work is related to the installation, repair or configuration of various broadcasting and data transmission equipment in our towers, as well as in the facilities of our customers – electronic communications merchants and broadcasters,” says Vineta Sprugaine, head of the Corporate Communications Department of LVRTC.
It is significant that the story of towers and flags can be read in the pages of LVRTC’s history already at the beginning of the last century, because the first radio masts built in the twenties in Riga, on Radio Street, have also flown the national flag.
During the years of Soviet occupation, when the Riga radio and television tower was built in Zaķusala, employees were given the command to raise the flag of Soviet Latvia on the tower. The employees who were entrusted with it refused to do it with the words: “If there is no red and white, then there is nothing!” Thus, the flag of Soviet Latvia was not raised on the tower, although a flag mast was planned for it when the tower was already being designed. For the first time, the flag flew in the tower 28 years after its operation.
The story of the Sigulda tower flag is symbolic. In the 1970s, when the 82m high tower towered over the city, which the press of that time even called Sigulda’s new business card, the top of the tower was painted in red and white stripes. Although the coloring was intended for aviation security purposes, it is said that in parts it clearly resembled the flag of a free country. A few days later, the three lanes were supplemented by two more.
The highest flag above sea level in Latvia flies during the holidays in Cesvaine. This is because the Cesvaine radio and television tower is located almost 200m above sea level and the tower itself is also 204m high. Technologically, while TV broadcasting used analog rather than digital signal transmission, it was the transmitter’s height above the ground, combined with its power, that was the determining factor in transmitting TV and radio signals over the widest possible radius. Initially, the Cesvaines tower was 180m high. Although even before the extension it already got the business card “the highest point in the Baltics above sea level” in the press, the extension allowed this status to be strengthened for a long time in history, since no building higher than sea level has been built in the Baltics since the middle of the last century.
* Cesvaine’s tower
On November 18, the flag is raised at the Zaķusala TV tower at 8.00 with sunrise and will fly until sunset.