In mid-June, many general education institutions across Lithuania held events to mark the Day of Mourning and Hope.
This year, Lithuanian schools and educational institutions were invited to organize commemorative initiatives called “A Bird of Hope.” Remembering the past and the deportations initiated 82 years ago by the Soviet occupation authorities to talk to students about hope and faith, things that gave strength to our grandparents and great-grandparents who were forcibly deported far from their homeland. The students were also invited to make tricolor bracelets to adorn the deportees coming to the commemorations. This year, 168 schools in Lithuania organized events to mark the Day of Mourning and Hope. You can find moments from the events in Lithuania in the gallery.
On 14 June, the Day of Mourning and Hope events took place in Vilnius. One of the observance events, which started with a procession of tribute from Nepriklausomybes / Independence / Square to Aukų (Victims) Street, where a ceremony was held in front of the monuments to the victims of the occupation, the genocide, and the repressions of the Soviet era.
The second event of the Day of Mourning and Hope, the Hour of Remembrance, took place at the memorial of Naujoji Vilnia railway station, with the participation of former exiles and political prisoners and a large number of students and their teachers from 5 Lithuanian schools.
The event at the Naujoji Vilnia memorial began with Judita Leitaitė’s (a singer) words about her father, a former partisan who was imprisoned for ten years in the Taishet camp in the region of Irkutsk. Two former exiles addressed the memorial event, one of whom, Teresėlė Kazlauskienė, stressed that “there is no greater happiness than to be free,” while Rasa Peslekienė recalled the deportations of 1951, which were “so beautifully titled” autumn. (A deportation operation “Osen”).”
“Bruknelė”, a singing ensemble from Varėna, performed the song “O kap saulukė tekėjo” (“The sun was rising”), a symbol of hope, followed by the sound of the guitar, while students from 5 schools handed out the Birds of Hope they had made to the former exiles. According to Paula Kuzmickienė, Chairwoman of the Commission for the Freedom Fights and the Historical Memory of the State of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, “today, with this commemoration, with the participation of all of us, we are restoring the memory”.
Simona Bieliūnė, Vice-Mayor of Vilnius, who attended the event, recalled the Soviet policy of deportations, “The deportations were aimed not only at deporting our people, but also at deporting our freedom”.
The song “Skriski, skriski Lietuvėlėn” (Fly to Lithuania) was a sensitive song about the love of one’s homeland and being away from one’s country. At the end of the event, Father Julius Sasnauskas blessed the bread and shared his thoughts, which give great hope for the future: “A new generation has grown up, one that rejects violence. A new generation has grown up that is full of empathy.”
The Memorial Hour of Remembrance event at the Naujoji Vilnia Railway Station Memorial was organized by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes Committed by the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, and the Municipality of Vilnius City.
Students and teachers from the following schools took part in the commemoration event: Atžalyno Gymnasium from Pakruojis, Gijos Youth School from Vilnius, Vilnios Primary School from Vilnius, Karaliaus Mindaugo School from Kaunas, and MAGIS School from Vilnius.