"Sveikinimai Jums Draugai!
I am taking this opportunity to share as I do each year the livingreflection of what took place 16 years ago at the TV Tower in Vilnius,Lithuania. Some memories fade, but for all Lithuanians who cherish freedomof mind, soul, spirit and country, memories of those events leading to theIndependence of Lithuania never fade.
The Lithuanian National Anthem ("Lietuvos Himnas") is usually sung atLithuanian gatherings throughout the World. There will be no better day thantoday to perhaps rededicate ourselves to the ideals set forth inLithuania's "Lietuvos Himnas". I know of no other Anthem as beautiful andlyrically more meaningful than is ours.
"Lithuania, my homeland, land of heroes!
Let your sons draw strength fromthe past.
Let your children follow only the path of virtue, working for thegood of their native land and for all mankind.
Let the sun banish alldarkness from Lithuania, with light and truth always guiding our steps.
Let the love of Lithuania burn in our hearts And for the sake of our country,let unity blossom."
Kudirka in his poem depicts Lithuania vividly as "land of heroes. "Throughout time, there have been many "heroes" in Lithuanian history. However, just eighteen years ago, on this day, some ofLithuania's greatest "heroes" sacrificed their lives so that their countryand our homeland could be free. There were thousands of people at both the TV Tower and also the Parliament. They went and gathered there to protect these buildings from Russian aggression, knowing that Russian tanks would come. Personally, I know one man who was there with his young son sitting on his shoulders; that youngson is now an adult, living and working in a Free Lietuva.One young man, Rimantas Juknevicius, was asked by his Mother, "Why are yougoing there?" Rimantas replied without waver, "Kas kitas jei ne as?" (Who else if not I?)
Fourteen "heroes" died in the siege, many young people and some under thetreads of tanks. Rimantas died at 25 years of age. Today, let's take time to personally remember and commemorate the ideals ofthose who died on today's "Defenders of Freedom Day", only seventeen yearsago. And, as you focus upon each name below, quickly mentally calculate the age of each.
Loreta Asanaviciute (1967 - 1991)
Virginijus Druskis (1969 - 1991)
Darius Gerbutavicius (1973 - 1991)
Rolandas Jankauskas (1969 - 1991)
Rimantas Juknevicius (1966 - 1991)
Alvydas Kanapinskas (1952 - 1991)
Algimantas Petras Kavoliukas (1939 - 1991)
Vidas Maciulevicius (1966 - 1991)
Titas Masiulis (1962 - 1991)
Alvydas Matulka (1960 - 1991)
Apolinaras Juozas Povilaitas (1937 - 1991)
Ignas Simulionis (1973 - 1991)
Vytautas Vaitkus (1943 - 1991)
Vytautas Koncevicius (1941 - 1991)"