February 16 marks 95 years since Lithuania gained her independence.
You might be asking yourselves, “what is Lithuania? Is it a made-up country?” Despite boasting an exotic name, Lithuania is a real country with a rich history.
From February 16, 1918, until August 23, 1939, Lithuania enjoyed freedom and prosperity until the Soviet Union grabbed hold of it through the so-called German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact (Molotov-Robbentrop Act). From 1939 until March 11, 1990 (reunification), Lithuania was subjected to endless bloodshed, tyranny, and death under Lenin, Stalin, and other brutal dictators. Religious and/or ethnic persecution of Jews, Catholics, Christians, Lithuanians, Russians, Poles, and those who didn’t agree with Soviet communism was witnessed. The horror exhibited under Soviet occupation is inexcusable and should be rightly condemned. (I would know – my family personally suffered.) Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that many Lithuanians craved freedom and were determined to depose the Soviet Union.
Regarded as the land of “beer, babes, and basketball” to tourists, Lietuva (Lithuanian for “rainy country”) is an untapped treasure in Eastern Europe. Castles, sandy beaches, forests prime for mushroom hunting, and amber jewelry are yet to be discovered by most.
Vilnius, capital of Lithuania
Svyturys, Lithuanian beer
If you’re looking for a unique place to visit this year, make Lithuania your top 2013 destination. Just don’t plan to bring a mail-order bride back with you.
Hill of Witches – Juodkrantė
Hill of Crosses – Siauliai
Palanga Amber Museum – Palanga
Gediminas Tower – Vilnius
Ninth Fort – Kaunas
Trakai Castle – Trakai
Lithuanian Sea Museum – Klaipeda
Lithuania was the first Baltic Republic to declare its independence from the USSR on March 11, 1990. The rebelliousness that fueled this has inspired many to speak out against collectivism and tyranny.
Our fellow Americans should look to people like my parents and others who’ve escaped here to better appreciate the freedoms afforded to them here in the United States.
Happy Independence Day, Lietuva!