The Estonian word for column is often declined as samba, which makes me expect Tom Jobim to spring forth, guitar in hand, anytime the word samba is dropped in Estonian discourse, which, if you haven't noticed, is quite often.
In all honesty, the ongoing and somewhat predictable controversy over the victory column in Tallinn has passed me by. I mean I don't live in Tallinn, and some construction and a large obelisk definitely will not eclipse the roving gangs of inebriated Britishers in search of a late night hamburger in terms of Tallinnese unpleasantness.
I agree that the gentlemen of 1918 deserve an imposing monument that reminds us all that without their sweat and blood this blessed peninsula might have gone the way of Ingria or Karelia. And yet ... the first time I went to Tallinn my naine-to-be and I ate pizza on that hill overlooking Vabaduse Väljak. She told me a story about the 1980 Olympics and I said nothing, as I have no memory of the 1980 Olympics.
If we climb the same hill next summer, our view will be interrupted by what feminist scholars might refer to as a large, white, phallic object with a cross on top of it. Fine. States build monuments; people are resistant to change; I'll always have the memories.
It's a funny thing, too, because I really feel 1918 like only a history-loving weirdo can. What I love about Estonian history is that it is so globalized; there are always so many players, there's always subtlety and intrigue. At various times, the Estonians of 1918 fought alongside Finns, Swedes, Danes, Germans, Brits, and Russians.
Surely, they deserve some attention-grabbing monument in their country's capital. And yet, when people actually build one, I zone out. Maybe it's because I don't live in Tallinn. Or maybe it is because a story will always be more powerful than a monument can ever be.