July 6 is an important day in Lithuania. This year it marks not only Statehood Day, and the Coronation of King Mindaugas, but has also officially become National Anthem Day, when Lithuanians throughout the world sing the national anthem at the same time.
Historical and state flags are raised, and ceremonial events include a speech by president Gitanas Nausėda, as well as greetings from various officials and guests. Traditionally, awards are presented at the Presidential Palace to deserving Lithuanians and friends of Lithuania who have contributed to its success.
This year is special to Canadians, with three being awarded – two from the Lithuanian Canadian Community. Joana Kuras, long-time president of the LCC, has dedicated many years to working on Lithuanian-Canadian relations and many other aspects important to the Community, and received the Order of the Cross for Contribution to Lithuania.
The Order was also awarded to Danguolė Juozapavičiūtė-Breen, director of the Lithuanian Museum-Archives of Canada, for her contribution to the promotion of Lithuanian identity and its historical memory by organizing and facilitating the transfer of long-lost diplomatic archives from Canada to the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Lithuania. An exhibition of these archives is available on the Museum’s website lithuanianheritage.ca (The Long Journey Home) and at the Grand Dukes’ Palace in Vilnius.
Finally, the Military Cross was presented to Charles Hopkins, Chair of the UNESCO Department of Toronto’s York University for saving these archives and returning them to the Lithuanian Community.