I often tell people that Lithuania is "the little country with two Independence Days." Well, there's a good reason for that.
Twenty-five years ago today, Lithuania became the first of the so-called Soviet Socialist Republics to declare itself free of the Soviet Union. This was a huge deal. It came only about four months after the Berlin Wall had fallen. During those heady weeks, new ideas swept through Eastern Europe, but the big cheese, the USSR, managed to stay intact. Suddenly, a giant ax smashed through the foundation of the central Soviet nation itself.
Vytautas Landsbergis, a music professor with the same first name as one of Lithuania's great historic figures, was the leader of the Supreme Council of Lithuania when it passed the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania, and his signature is right there at the top where Soviet authorities wouldn't miss it. (That says "re-establishment" because Lithuania was an independent nation between 1918 and 1940, and, of course, the Lithuanian nation goes back many more centuries than that.)
In May 2011, as I noted on this blog, I got a chance to meet Dr. Landsbergis in person and shake his hand at the Baltimore Lithuanian Festival. I'm still thrilled that I was able to meet him once. After all, how many people on this Earth can say that they broke an evil empire?
Happy Rebirth-Day, Lithuania!
(And, yes, I'll post again soon so that I can describe my recent adventures in the SCA.)
Names from 11th Century Carcassonne
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