President of Lithuania
Sunday, February 11. (Washington) President Valdas Adamkus, currently on a visit to the United States of America, attended a Lithuanian Mass in the Crypt of the Basilica of the National Shrine of Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. and visited the Lady of Šiluva Chapel in the Basilica. He also went to the Paul John II Center to meet members of the local Lithuanian American community.
Speaking to a large audience of Lithuanian Americans, President Adamkus said that the Lithuanian Independence Day of February 16 united all Lithuanians, however far they might be from their homeland.
„It is symbolic that we celebrate February 16 in various continents because this great national holiday brings together Lithuanians living in the most far away places, uniting our hearts and minds,” said Mr. Adamkus.
He underlined that it was of utmost importance to preserve the heritage cherished by several generations of Lithuanians in the United States of America.
„I am delighted and very happy that today the Lithuanian community maintains the same creative, dynamic and responsible stance towards Lithuania. The feeling of responsibility and commitment to Homeland has helped us preserve our language, culture and the most cherished traditions created throughout long centuries. I wish us all to foster the awareness of being Lithuanian and hand it down to new generations wherever we might find ourselves,” said Mr. Adamkus.
Speaking about double citizenship – a problem of heated discussions among Lithuanians – President Adamkus emphasized that this question should be resolved without unnecessary emotions and only by making the right legal steps.
President Valdas Adamkus wished everyone to foster Lithuanian identity and the spirit of February 16, which would help preserve the Lithuanian ethos in those countries where it had been cherished and respected for many decades.