“All together, we are the NATO army that is ready to defend its state and people, but there has to be public confidence – celebration of this day unifies the military and the society. We are looking at only just a fragment of the allies and the Armed Forces but it is sophisticated enough to counter the contemporary threats,” said Minister of National Defence to the audience gathered to mark Partisan Remembrance and Military and Public Unity Day in Varėna, May 15.
Minister reminded that a remarkably big number of people sacrificed their lives for Lithuania and there were thousands of members and supporters of the resistance in that area. “This commemorative day is the best symbolism and act of remembrance to those who laid down their lives for Lithuania,” stressed A. Anušauskas.
On May 15 Partisan Remembrance and Military and Public Unity Day was marked with a Lithuanian Armed Forces-organized military equipment convoy across South Lithuania with two stops, in Varėna and Lazdijai, to commemorate Lithuanian partisans.
Tribute was paid to Lithuanian freedom fighters: a member of “Partizanas” military history club wearing a replica of Juozas Lukša-Daumantas passed the colours to the modern-day Lithuanian Armed Forces. This year Lithuania celebrates what could have been the 100 anniversary of partisan leader Juozas Lukša-Daumantas.
“The military and the public, I dare say, are one. We are united by our Motherland – the home we are determined to protect and defend. It doesn’t even matter by what means. It doesn’t matter because the history has shown and taught us that there is no wrong way to fight for freedom. What matters is mutual spirit and determination. We have chosen this region for our march purposefully: this is the birthplace of eminent partisan leaders whose decisions and actions, influence and motivation resounded way beyond Southern Lithuania. Just like their name today is known not only in Lithuania but in the world,” spoke Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lt Gen Valdemaras Rupšys.
Over 20 units of military equipment of the Lithuanian Armed Forces and the NATO allies (Vilkas Infantry Fighting Vehicle, PzH 2000 self-propelled field artillery howitzer, Boxer Infantry Fighting Vehicle of the German military, Piranha fighting vehicles of the Belgian military, armored reconnaissance vehicle, all-terrain vehicles, and other equipment) travelled from Lazdijai to Varėna in the convoy.
The tradition to commemorate the unity of the military and the public once a year dates back to the inter-war Lithuania. The day is most usually celebrated on the third weekend of May. The celebration was revived after the restoration of Independence, in 1993, and takes place in a different region of Lithuania every year.
Photo credits: Sgt Spc 1st Class Ieva Budzeikaitė