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Chicago’s Lithuanians Commemorate Independence:

Voice Support for War on Terrorism and Call for NATO Enlargement

Chicago Lithuanian Americans commemorated Lithuanian Independence Day on Sunday, February 10. A special convocation was held at Maria High School auditorium (6727 S. California) at 2:00 p.m. The event sponsored by the Chicago Chapter of the Lithuanian American Council commemorated the 84th anniversary of Lithuania’s Declaration of Independence in 1918. The Lithuanian American Council founded in 1940 represents major Lithuanian organizations nationwide.

The national anthems were sung by Mary Kincius accompanied by dr. Leonard Simutis. The invocation was delivered by bishop Hansas Dumpys. The commemoration included greetings from the office of Gov. George Ryan, Consul General of Lithuania Giedrius Apuokas. The senior senator from Illinois Richard Durbin gave an extended greeting in which he committed himself to work for Lithuania’s admission to NATO.

Paul A. Goble, Senior Advisor to the Director of the Voice of America, had submitted his remarks entitled A New Challenge for Lithuanian Americans. The remarks were read by Saulius V. Kuprys, president of the Lithuanian American Council. Mr. Goble emphasized that Lithuania’s potential as a democratic and independent state needs to be shored up by American Lithuanians and their organizations. [Full text of Paul Goble’s remarks]

A resolution supporting the US war on terrorism and the inclusion of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in the next round of NATO enlargement was unanimously adopted by the convocation. [Full text of resolution]

Among the guests attending was Honorary Consul Vaclovas Kleiza and Mrs. Kleiza, Honorary Consul Stanley Balzekas Jr., Robert Martin, president of Knights of Lithuania, Regina Narusis, Chairperson of the Lithuanian American Community, Birute Jasaitis, President of the Lithuanian Human Services Council of the USA, Birute Vindasius, president of the Midwestern Region of Lithuanian American Community and Dr. Linas Sidrys, president of the Lithuanian Roman Catholic Charities, Inc.

The program concluded with a musical program by the women’s chorus of the Lithuanian Opera Company. The chorus has successfully staged operatic and classical music productions since 1957. Knights of Lithuania dancers performed a number of traditional Lithuanian folk dances.

Ms. Vida Sakevicius acted as Master of Ceremonies. Also participating in the ceremonies were the Don Varnas and Darius and Girenas American Legion Posts and the local divisions of the Lithuanian National Guard in exile as well as other organizations which were present with their respective flags. Evelyn Ozelis coordinated the commemoration as president of the Chicago chapter of the Lithuanian American Council.