Happy 25th Anniversary of Reunification, Lithuania!

 

Credit: LTUWorld

Credit: LTUWorld

On this day 25 years ago, the Baltic Republic of Lithuania broke away from the Soviet Union. (It was the first Baltic to do so.)

Here’s more about this important historical event from LTUWorld:


Lithuania marks the 25-year anniversary of the restoration of its independence.

We Believe in Freedom. We always did. For centuries from the beginning of Lithuanian statehood to the present day.

Having restored Lithuania’s independence 25 years ago two out of three Lithuanians personally remember that thirst for freedom and how comforting the first gulps were. We remember how good it felt to return to Europe, to be back home where freedom is an underlying value.

11th March 1990 was the day when Lithuanians became free to choose, to grow, to be themselves. And we try to do our best.

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If you are interested in how the world press reacted to the restoration of Lithuania’s Independence in 1990, check out this source: http://parodos.lnb.lt/en/exhibits/show/paroda-kovo-11

Grateful to have immediate roots in a country that prizes faith, freedom, and free markets.

Happy Reunification Day, Lietuva!

Planning to Travel in 2015? Visit Lithuania

images LT

Who else is digging the love Lithuania is getting lately from travel blogs and similar publications?

The Baltic nation of Lithuania has a special place in my heart. For those who know me personally, I often boast about my Baltic roots and showcase delicious food from my ancestral homeland. I can’t help that I appreciate my Lithuanian roots! (Last Friday marked 29 years since my parents and relatives left then Soviet-occupied Lithuania for the U.S.)

For those of you shaking your head questioning whether or not Lithuania is a real country: Yes, it’s a real country with a rich history. It’s also a freedom-loving, rebellious, deeply Catholic (socially conservative) country giving Russian oligarch Vladimir Putin massive headaches. (And rightly so!) Moreover, I’m proud to say that my Lithuanian heritage has tremendously aided me in advancing conservatism.

What is Lithuania known for? In short, basketball, beer, and beautiful women. The first written mention of Lithuania dates back to March 9, 1009. It’s also the largest and most populous of the Baltic Republics. Additionally, Lithuania was the first Baltic Republic to declare its independence from the Soviet Union on March 11, 1990. (How cool is that?)

Need a reason to visit the Baltic Republic?

Lonely Planet listed Lithuania as one of the top 10 countries to visit in 2015:

Rebellious, quirky and vibrant, Lithuania (Lietuva) is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. Though the country rarely makes it into newspapers outside its borders (and when it does, it’s for some basketball exploit), the southernmost of the three Baltic countries holds a bag of treats.

Lithuania joined Singapore, Namibia, Nicaragua, Ireland, Republic of Congo, Serbia, the Philippines, St Lucia, and Morocco on Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015 list.

And Forbes also listed Lithuania as a top travel destination in 2015:

It’s also home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the old town of capital city Vilnius, a Baroque masterpiece and one of the largest old towns in Central and Eastern Europe; and the Curonian Spit, a 60-mile peninsula of spectacular beaches stretching south into Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave. Once heavily forested, it’s now the pride of the country and backed by Europe’s largest moving sand dune.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly caught the travel bug. Last time I was in Lietuva was in August 1999. (I was eight at the time.) Hoping to pay a visit in the near future, especially sometime later this year!

Would you want to visit Lithuania this year? Weigh in below!

Happy 29th Freedomversary, Mom and Dad!

On this day 29 years ago, my parents arrived in the United States in search of a better life.

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[Aren’t my parents adorable? They’ll be celebrating 33 years of marriage in April.]

I often brag and boast about my parents because, well, they’re awesome. Not only that, they are the best [naturalized] Americans I know! They came here virtually penniless from the now-defunct Soviet Union in search of a better life. (Soviet attitudes still thrive in Russia today.) Their first home, Lithuania, was sadly ravaged by Soviet policies. Thankfully the country is now free.

I recently watched “Moscow on the Hudson” (1984) which starred the late Robin Williams. In the film, there is a profound scene featuring a swearing-in ceremony for soon-to-be naturalized Americans. Here’s a relevant quote from that scene:

 …Today you will become citizens of the United States of America. No longer are you an Englishman, Italian, a Pole or whatever, neither will you be a hyphenated American. From this day you are no longer a subject of a government, but an integral part of the government, a free man. May you find in this nation the fulfillment of your dreams of Peace and Security, and may America in turn never find you wanting in your new proud role of citizen of the United States…

This scene will certainly have an impact on you. Becoming American used to be lauded. Now, it’s “xenophobic” and “insensitive” to suggest people should assimilate to the American way of life. My parents retain many aspects of Lithuanian culture, but understand that success in America comes with blending into society. Without a doubt, American citizenship is a great privilege. Cherish it more!

I’m proud to be a daughter of legal immigrants from Lithuania. My parents sacrificed so much to come here to achieve the American dream. My sister and I are eternally grateful to them for giving us a good life here in the U.S.

Happy 29th Freedomversary, Mom and Dad!

25th Anniversary of the Berlin Wall Fall: Tyranny Still Thrives Today

On this day 25 years ago, the Berlin Wall fell . This soon led to the physical collapse of the Soviet Union. This pivotal moment in history freed millions of people behind the Iron Curtain, including members of my family in Lithuania.

Below is footage from that fateful day:

Here’s a picture I took of a remnant of the Berlin Wall at Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Library in August 2012.

 

The fall of the Berlin Wall was symbolic in that it led to the physical collapse of the Soviet Union. It was also the tireless efforts of Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II–along with the indomitable freedom-loving people of Eastern Europe (including members of my family in Lithuania)–who brought the end of the USSR. From Solidarity in Poland to the Baltic Way in the Baltic Republics, the perseverance of those in Eastern Europe helped pivot the end of the Soviet Union.

Though the USSR collapsed, its pernicious ideas still permeate today. Putin’s Russia is Neo-Soviet, and he says the Hitler-Stalin Pact was justified. Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, and countless other countries still practice tyranny today. And American universities whitewash Soviet crimes and even justify them. Marion Smith of Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation wrote an important op-ed in Wall Street Journal highlighting the danger of communism’s lurking presence:

To tear down that wall will require the same moral clarity that brought down the concrete and barbed-wire barrier that divided Berlin 25 years ago. The Cold War may be over, but the battle on behalf of human freedom is still being waged every day. The triumph of liberty we celebrate on this anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s destruction must not be allowed to turn to complacency in the 21st century. Victory in the struggle again totalitarian oppression is far from inevitable, but this week we remember that it can be achieved. 

It’s important to educate people about global communism’s horrors and call for equal condemnation of Soviet crimes. I urge you to support groups like Victims of Communism to further educate the country about the horrors of global communism.

Remember to never forget.

New Counter Cultured Article: Be an Individual in the Era of Big Government

I’ve penned a new column up at Counter Cultured today titled “Be Classic in the Era of Big Government.”

Here’s an excerpt:

I was recently listening to MKTO’s megahit “Classic” for some inspiration. While this song is centered on love, it can be applied to anything. If you haven’t heard the song, below is a sample of the song’s lyrics:

You’re over my head
I’m out of my mind
Thinking I was born in the wrong time
It’s love on rewind,
Everything is so throwback-ish (I kinda like it, like it)
Out of my league
Old school chic
Like a movie star
From the silver screen
You’re one of a kind living in a world gone plastic
Baby you’re so classic
Baby you’re so classic
Baby you’re so classic

While government may not have direct involvement in every cultural phenomenon, its promotion of paternalism and complacency is greatly seen in pop culture, religion, business, and politics today. It’s better to be classic, or independent-minded, than a conformist in an era marked by invasive big government.

Continue reading at Counter Cultured.

NRA News Appearance: Richmond Times-Dispatch Article on DC Gun Ban Repeal

I appeared on NRA News’ Cam and Company Show with my friend Cameron Edwards this past Monday. Here’s the link to the segment.

Virginia Shooting Sports Association’s blog wrote about my appearance below:

Over the weekend, Leadership Institute Northeast Regional Field Coordinator Gabby Hoffman had an Op/Ed in the Richmond Times Dispatch making the case for repealing the ban on carrying handguns in Washington D.C.  In the opinion piece, Hoffman wrote about how Virginia’s concealed handgun law has made the Commonwealth a safer place, and how crime has dropped at the same time gun sales have increased exponentially in the last six years:

If D.C. adopts gun laws similar to those of Virginia, the nation’s capital will witness a reduction in crime when law-abiding residents are permitted to conceal-carry.

Hoffman spoke with NRANewsCam Edwards on Monday and talked in more detail about how D.C.’s residents would benefit if the City Council adopted a carry ordinance similar to Virginia.

 

 

Winning: Concealed Carry Ban in D.C. Has Been Ruled Unconstitutional

Fellow residents of the DMV (DC-Maryland-Virginia metro area) have something to celebrate: a ban on concealed carry has been ruled unconstitutional in D.C.!  The plaintiffs’ lead attorney, Alan Gura, first reported this and provided  the opinion from the U.S. District Court of Appeals on Palmer v. D.C.:

In light of Heller, McDonald, and their progeny, there is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny. Therefore, the Court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional. Accordingly, the Court grants Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and enjoins Defendants from enforcing the home limitations of D.C. Code § 7-2502.02(a)(4) and enforcing D.C. Code § 22-4504(a) unless and until such time as the District of Columbia adopts a licensing mechanism consistent with constitutional standards enabling people to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.4 Furthermore, this injunction prohibits the District from completely banning the carrying of handguns in public for self-defense by otherwise qualified non-residents based solely on the fact that they are not residents of the District.

 Since I live near D.C., I’m absolutely thrilled to learn about this ruling. If you’ve ventured to certain parts of D.C.–namely Northeast or Southeast D.C.–you’ve read about, heard about, or witnessed violence in the nation’s capital. Many incidents in D.C. could have been prevented had this ban on concealed carry not been in effect. Many instances point to this.

For example, a D.C. resident named Dario Flammer was attacked by a group of guys near Logan Circle in June 2013. Following the incident, Flammer said he refused to become a victim again. NBC Washington reported:

Flammer says the attackers shouted homophobic slurs in Spanish.

Flammer plans to take steps to avoid becoming a victim again.

“I’m going to get a license and get a 9mm,” he said. “That’s the truth.”

Last September, Washington Navy Yard was subjected to a horrible shooting  when unhinged military contractor Aaron Alexis killed 12 military personnel. A July 11th report on the Navy Yard shooting noted that a directive issued by President George H.W. Bush making military bases “gun-free zones” left those at Navy Yard defenseless:

“Police departments may hold the mistaken belief that the personnel working within gated military installations in the United States, such as the Navy Yard, are heavily armed and capable of defending against threats. The truth, however, is that the majority of the individuals working on military bases are not armed,” the report said.

Hope D.C. residents can enjoy the same luxury of gun rights as we do here in the Commonwealth:

I will have further commentary on this ruling later this week, so stay tuned!