- February 14, 2013
95th anniversary of rebirth of Lithuania
In February, Lithuania was getting ready for one of the three most important celebrations of establishing statehood.
16th February, the Day of Lithuanian rebirth, was celebrated in the whole country. The Polish President, Bronisław Komorowski, came to Vilnius to maintain the good tradition of celebrating important national days together by Poland and Lithuania. The custom was broken on 11th November by the Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė.
The main celebrations took place on Saturday morning, but on 15th February in the Presidential Office, national awards for distinguished cultural activists were given.
The awards were given to historians, prof. Edvardas Gudavičius and Mečislovas Jučas, the chairman of the Lithuanian ombudsman office, Romas Valentukevičius, and a former mayor of Neringa city, a diplomat and now an advisor of the Lithuanian Prime Minister, prof. Antanas Vinkus.
Many Polish activists were also distinguished: a teacher of the Polish language, Anna Gulbinowicz, an MP of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania, Rita Tamašunienė, a former deputy– mayor of Vilnius, now the manager of the House of the Polish Culture and a city councillor of Vilnius Artur Lulkowski, his deputy, Krystyna Ziemińska, the manager of the department of commerce of the House of the Polish Culture, Władysław Wojnicz, his deputy, Irena Łukaszewicz and the project coordinator of the House of the Polish Culture, Bożena Mieżonis.
Krystyna Dierżyńska, the vice–chairman of the Association of Polish School Teachers “Alma Mater” and cultural activists Krystyna Bogdanowicz and Grzegorz Jakowicz were also given the awards by President Bronisław Komorowski.
As a new country on the political map of Europe, completely sovereign and independent one, Lithuania was reborn on 16th February 1918. The beginning of the process was the signing of the Act of Independence by The Council of Lithuania. Among 20 signers of the Act there was the Patriarch of the Lithuanian independence, Jonas Basanavičius and Stanislovas Narutavičius, the brother of Gabriel Narutowicz, the first President of Poland, assassinated shortly after taking the office. The Act of 16th February proclaimed independence of the nation and it cut off the country’s “former relations with other nations”. On 16th February two identical documents were signed, but their later fate remains unknown.
After the proclamation of independence, Lithuania was remaining under German protectorate. Germany wanted the authorities to sign a pact about “eternal peace”. But the revolutionary events of 1918 in Germany deleted these plans and Lithuania was eventually able to become independent. The Soviet Russia recognized Lithuanian independence later, in the middle of 1920.
On Saturday, heads of states paid tribute to the signers of the Act of Independence, buried in the graveyard in Rossa. On midday, on the S.Daukantas Square, the ceremony of hoisting flags of three Baltic countries took place. The Presidents Dalia Grybauskaitė and Bronisław Komorowski also participated in it. After the ceremony, there was a short meeting of the Presidents.
At night, in the National Philharmonic, there was a charity concert, dedicated to the Day of Independence. The means collected during the concert supported organisations helping young, talented people.
In the meantime, since the morning until the night, there were concerts on the Gediminas Alley. Traditionally, 16 fires were lighted to celebrate the 16th February as the Day of Independence.
Events, concerts and meetings took place in many other locations – in the Old Town, on the Taurakalnis, in the St. Catherine’s Church.
The main Mass on the Day of Independence was celebrated on midday in the Vilnius Cathedral. It began at 12:30 pm.
Tłumaczenie Emilia Zawieracz w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Emilia Zawieracz the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.