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Address by H.E. Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania, at the State Awards Ceremony on the Occasion of the Day of Coronation of King Mindaugas

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Lithuania, whose history goes back a millennium, is celebrating the day of its statehood. On this day we contemplate the past of our nation, we remember events of historic significance and the people who were, and are, important to us, and we reflect on the bright and tragic moments of history. On this day we are bound together by a very special feeling which can be best described as the "Creation of Lithuania".

 

A thousand years of fighting for survival. A thousand years of efforts to be within Europe, not only and not as much in its geographic space, but within its spiritual, cultural and political context. We confronted and countered inside and outside threats and we escaped the danger of losing our national identity or becoming extinct. Today as we look back on the past of Lithuania, we can describe many of its moments as national self-protection.

 

We have known a thousand years of resistance and only some periods of quiet when our people could concentrate on economic progress, education and creative work. And each time, Lithuania would catch up with Europe in a comparatively short period. We saw many shifts from national resistance to nation building on our historical pathway.

In this context of reality, the architects of Lithuanian history who were determined to get back what had been taken away from the nation in the course of decades or even centuries must be all the more respected. Today is the perfect day to remember those who made and created Lithuania in all moments of its history and to extend our acknowledgment and gratitude. Thank you for building Lithuania in freedom and in oppression, at home and in exile or forced emigration.

 

Is it not for this reason that Lithuania received massive moral support from all over the world since the very first moments of its national revival movement and aspirations for independence? The strong backing given by democratic forces and prominent international figures had not only encouraged us, but also accelerated our return to the family of democratic nations and the final point of our historical destination. So that once again we can leave resistance behind and resume the nation building process. So that we can live as an independent nation and member of collective security organizations, working together towards modern Lithuania, modern Europe and modern world.

 

Fighting for freedom and living in independence is the common denominator that brings the suffering and victories of the people of Lithuanian, their past and future, their armed resistance, their culture, education and science together in a single space. The work and endeavors of each generation and every person have created a nation vibrant in its heart and actions, forging a close bond between all of us here and the Lithuania of 1009, the Lithuania of King Mindaugas and the Lithuania of All Ages.

 

I bow to the memory of those architects and defenders of Lithuania who have not lived to see this day. And I thank sincerely those who have gathered here in this hall, all those whose work and endeavors are making Lithuania more confident, secure and optimistic about the future.

I would like to express my special gratitude to those who will be awarded the Life Saving Cross. Human life is the most precious gift from God and from fate. Thank you for protecting it and for not being indifferent. It is from this feeling of togetherness in grief and distress, from our shared responsibility for the things that happen here and now that a nation is born. This is the beginning of Lithuania!

 

Once again, thank you all who have spared no effort and spiritual or physical endeavor to defend Lithuania and create history. I feel blessed to have known you in my ten years of presidency. I feel privileged to have been able to thank you and shake your hand. You are the pride and glory of Lithuania. Thank you so very much.

H.E. Mr. Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania

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