Bulletin of Lithuanian Societies -- [Unknown date]The Liberty Bell of Lithuania
When the World War ended, the world took a breath. Lithuania like other war oppressed nations, had the right to look to the brighter horizon. Blood shed by Lithuanians guaranteed her liberty from slavery. The Lithuanians thought that the Allies after winning the war, would understand the sufferings of Lithuania, and would place a high value on the victims who had died for liberty.
From day to day we have waited patiently hoping that the Allies would become conscious of and recognize our nation's desire, and would grant to us liberty and independence. But unfortunately, up to this time, our desire and our demands have not been understood. Perhaps the Allies do not want to know or to understand. They tried to deliver Lithuania to the new exploiters, who since olden times, have been digging graves for us and making a coffin for our nation.
The time has arrived when duty demands that American Lithuanians take action to help their native land to gain freedom. It is necessary to go to the American government and to the whole world demanding protection for Lithuania, demanding her recognition as a free and independent country. It is necessary to present such a demand in the name of the Lithuanians living in America, and in their name speak as a body of 2representatives. At this important moment, it is advisable to hold a convention of American Lithuanians.
The nationalists at their common council assembly in New York demanded that a convention of American Lithuanians be called. The necessity of such a convention is recognized by the boards of both common councils, held on Jan. 19, 1919, at the Tribune building, New York. At this assembly it was decided to call a convention of American Lithuanians. The nationalists demanded that such a convention should be held in New York, or in Washington, while the catholics demanded that it should be held in Pittsburgh or Cleveland. Because of the disagreement between the nationalist council and the American Lithuanian council, it looked as if the American Lithuanian convention could not be hold.
The Chicagoans, composed of the Chicago Lithuanian societies, foresaw the necessity of such a convention, and since agreement between these two councils of nationalists and Catholics seemed impossible, they took the initiative and called the American Lithuanian convention on June 9, 10, and 11, 1919, in Chicago.
The American Lithuanian convention was called by the largest organization of 3American Lithuanians in Chicago and received the support of various Lithuanian organizations throughout America: viz. the American Lithuanian council, the Prussian Lithuanian council, and one of the largest Lithuanian organizations, the Lithuanian Alliance of America.
THE BELL PROPOSITION.
The Chicago Lithuanian organizations decided at this convention to cast the Liberty Bell of Lithuanian to donate this bell to the American Lithuanians convention in the name of all the American Lithuanians and then to donate it to Lithuania. The idea is a noble one and is closely bound to the traditions of the people of the United States, who has so heartily received to her bosom the foreign peoples.
The bell was cast in St. Louis, Mo., and on the 5th day of June, was received in Chicago.
THE BELL ITSELF.
The Bell is more than 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide, weights 1,000 pounds without frames, 1,200 pounds with frames. On one side is cast the image of a Knight, and the following poem written by Hon. B. K. Balutis:
"O, ring for ages,
To the children of Lithuania;
He is not worthy of Liberty,
Who is not defending her".4
On the other side of the Bell is cast in relief the following words: "The American Lithuanian Convention to Lithuania. June 9, 10 and 11, 1919. Chicago, Illinois."
Let that Bell, the symbol of liberty, testify for ages to the coming generations the sympathy and love of the American Lithuanians for their nation and for the fatherland Lithuania.
THE UNVEILING OF THE LIBERTY BELL OF LITHUANIA.
The unveiling and ringing of the bell for the first time occurred on June 8, 1919, in the evening before the convention, at the Chicago Auditorium Theater. At this pre-convention festival there were present over 4,000 people and many prominent representatives of the United States government. In front of the stage and to the right were seated the speakers and the prominent guests. At the left side the bell, covered with the American and Lithuanian flags was placed. At one side of the bell stood Mrs. Drangelis, representing Columbia, at the other side was Miss Staniulis, representing Lithuania. Around them and the bell in half wheel form were little girls, appropriately dressed representing virgins consecrated to the gods and to the service of watching the sacred fire. In the center of the stage was the Birutis choir, under the direction of the composer, Stanislovas Simkus. The choir was surrounded by a few hundred Lithuanian soldiers who served in the United States army during the World War.5
The program began with the American and the Lithuanian National hymns. Then the bell was unveiled and rung. The ceremony, Columbia, delivering the Bell to Lithuania, was as follows:
"Cradle of ancient liberty, whose voice inspired, armed the free, unto a smiling land brought peace, and blessed thy sons with freedom's ease, Lithuania, thee I hail! Thy happy lot, from tyrants freed, inspired the base, insensate greed Of evil foes, from near and far who waged on thee unholy war, Lithuania, to the death".
Lithuania, accepting from America the donation, the symbol of liberty, answered: "In years which seemed in horror draped, Years when my soil by foe was raped, I dreamed of better, happier days, Of ancient times, through mem'ry's haze, Columbia. When o'ver my soil brute armies trod, And crushed my soul beneath my sod, I saw my sons and daughters dead, Die, as in shambles, for my weal Columbia.
After the ceremonies, speeches followed. The speeches were delivered by United States Congressmen, William Mason and A.J. Sabath, both from the state of Illinois; The Chairman of the state of Illinois legislature, Davis E. Shanahan; Judge G.F. Barrett, of Cook County; V.F. Jankus, of New York; Attorney J.S. Lopatto, of Wilkes 6Barre, Pa.; and M. Vinikas, of Washington, D.C. The governor of the state of Illinois, Frank O. Lowden, sent a letter explaining that he was unable to be present at this festival. The chairman of the evening was John I. Bagdziunas.
THE AMERICAN LITHUANIAN CONVENTION.
The American Lithuanian Convention started on June 9th, and ended on June 11, 1919. The delegates were over 500 from various societies and mutual organizations from all parts of America.
Dr. Antanas Zimontas called the delegates to order. At the same time the Liberty Bell of Lithuania was brought forward, followed by the chairman and the secretary of the convention. A soldier brought in the United States flag, mournfully ringing the bell. The American hymn, "the Star Spangled Banner" was sung. After that, accompanied by the chairman and the secretary of the societies composing the convention, another soldier brought the three color flag of Lithuania, and while the bell was ringing, sang the hymn of Lithuania, "Lithuania the Fatherland of Ours".
The first speaker was Prof. F.L. Anderson, of Northwestern University. In his short address he reviewed the history of the European nations, and stated that at present, the demand for freedom by the smaller nations is not a new condition. Even in 1815.7
when a congress was held in Vienna, the rights of the small nations were disregarded and trampled upon, that at that time the desires for national freedom was so insistent it was plain that no power could subjugate the national spirit. When the war broke out, the stand they took showed that they were justified in their demands, and that no power can subjugate them forever. It is plain to everyone, that no one nation or race can successfully take care of another nation's affairs, and that every nation has full right to determine its own destiny. There is no power in the world that can overcome the national spirit. This fact has been proven by history. Lithuania, as an independent nation, has struggled for a long time for its rights. She has a right to become a free and independent nation. In ending his speech, Prof. Anderson congratulated Lithuanians for their bravery and devotion in their struggle for the liberty of their brothers.
The second speaker was Attorney J. Lopatto, who was the delegate from the American Lithuanians to the Paris Lithuanian peace conference. He said that the Poles have tried in every way they could to take Lithuania under their control. The delegates of Lithuania who were loyal to their government, have through their efforts stopped the Poles and forced them to admit their lies against Lithuania. The delegation of Lithuanians in Paris also has proved that on the eastern war front, the Lithuanians 8have fought against the Bolshevik army, with Latvian and Estonian help, but not with the help of Poles. The peace conference recommended that Lithuanians organize a common front with the Poles against the Bolsheviki. The Lithuanians agreed that they would make one front with the Poles, when they (the Poles) recognize Lithuania, with the Vilnius, Cardin and Luvolki territories. When the lies of the Poles came to light, then the Poles took arms and captured Vilnius. Although at that time, the Peace conference had published regulations, that territory taken by force, should not be included when establishing boundries. The Peace conference promised Lithuania to declare its independence, but from time to time delayed the proclamation. Then the speaker said, that this convention is very essential, and in due time the convention was called.
After the epeeches, an election was held naming the president and the various commitees. St. Gegiezis of Mahonoy City, Pa. was elected president; Vice-Pres., Atty. J. Lopatto, Wilkes Barre, Pa.; Second Vice-Pres., Atty. F. P. Bradzulis, Chicago, Ill.; Sec'y, John. E. Ewald, Chicago, Ill.; the Asst. Sec'y, V. K. Rackauskas, New York.
The resolutions committee consisted of B. K. Balutis, F.P. Bradchulis, John Kucinskas, St. Kodis, J.J. Hertmanavicius, V.F. Jankus, J.W. Liutkauskas, M. Vinikas and Dr. J. Jonikaitis.9
The press committee was composed of St. Kodis and Dr. K. Drangelis.
The finance committee to approve the convention's finance committee's report, was composed of John I. Bagdziunas, J.J. Elijosius, P. Pivarunes, J. Biezis and M. Duda.
After the opening of the convention, the chairman asked the delegates to stand one minute in silence in honor of those who died fighting for the freedom of Lithuania and for world democracy.
During the convention hundreds of letters and telegrams were received, and cablegrams from the president of Lithuania, Antanas Smetana; from the Lithuanian peace delegate, Prof. A. Valdemaras, and Martin Ycas of Paris.
President Smetana appealed to the American Lithuanians as follows: "Lithuania is living in honorable but hard days. She is trampled and tormented by the plunderers, who came from the east, who declared that they are bringing freedom to all the nations. There are invaders in our trampled country from the south, and the western neighbors are pretending to all the world that they are our friends. They suddenly and insidiously captured Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and from there they are seeking to 10capture our whole country. The young government of Lithuania and the young army of Lithuanians are trying their best to stop the invading enemy. Help us. You are living in a free country, whose President, Wilson, showed to the world the common principles of all nations, and he is making the plans to enforce them. You are our hope in this hour of Lithuania's distress. American Lithuanians! Exhausted Lithuania is appealing to you for help. Help with arms and with all your strength to defend the fatherland from the attackers, and to organize her democratic form of government. Most hearty thanks to the American Lithuanians! Lithuania is longing, waiting the coming of help from overseas".
This cablegram came from the Lithuania's Peace Delegation by Prof. Valdemaras: "The Lithuanian Peace Delegation heartily congratulates its compatriots at the convention, when they at this critical moment are trying to unite the whole Lithuanian force in America, struggling for Lithuania's freedom and independence, and we are wishing the best success in mutual effort for the common affairs. Lithuania is in the struggle, to win or lose against the enemies who are seeking to strangle her freedom. The enemies' efforts shall be in vain. Lithuania must be independent, and independence will be obtained through your help".
Martin Ycas in his cable says: "Let all the colonies which you are representing, 11join to regain the independence of the democratic Lithuania. Long live the American Lithuanians and the convention!"
The convention sent a telegram to the president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, to president Smetana of Lithuania, and to the Peace Delegation in Paris.
Over one hundred telegrams were sent to senators and congressmen of the United States with the appeal to interpose in behalf of Lithuania in its struggle for independence.
The convention was honored by a speech from Mrs. McDowell, who has devoted much of her time and effort to working for the welfare of Chicago Lithuanians. The convention chairman thanked her for her speech and for her good wishes. It gave her the "Liberty Bell" as an honorary token.
There were received also many telegrams from senators and congressmen. They expressed their sympathy for Lithuania in her struggle for freedom, and wished for her a prompt solution of her problems.
In the sixth session the presiding officer of the convention delivered to the convention, "The Liberty Bell of Lithuania", which was accepted by the 12delegates. He offered a resolution: (1) That a bronze model of the Liberty Bell of Lithuania should be given donors of a sum not less than five dollars. (2) That a book should be written containing the history of the Liberty Bell of Lithuania, and the names of donors.
Chairman S. Geguzis, in the name of the convention delegates, accepted the Liberty Bell of Lithuania and thanked the societies for such a donation.
To take care of the Liberty Bell of Lithuania and the donation, the following committee was elected: St. Geguzis, Mahonoy City, Pa.; John I. Bagdziunas, Chicago, Ill.; B.M. Butkus, Chicago, Ill.; Atty. J.S. Lopatto, Wilkes Barre, Pa.; T. Paukstis, Pittston, Pa.; Dr. K. Drangelis, Chicago, Ill.; K. Norkus, So. Boston, Mass.; V. Cesna, Baltimore, Md.; Cap't. A. Dambrauskas, Philadelphia, Pa.; V.F. Jankauskas, New York, N.Y.; A. Kranauskas, Cleveland, Ohio; J. Tareila, Ansonia, Conn.; M. Vinikas, Washington, D.C.; J. Grinius, Philadelphia, Pa.; K. Snuolis, Detroit, Mich.
The last session of the convention was closed on June 11, 1919.
THE FAREWELL FEAST FOR THE LIBERTY BELL OF LITHUANIA.
At the farewell feast of the Liberty Bell of Lithuania held August 24, 1919, 13about 18,000 people participated, representing various Lithuanian societies of Chicago.
At first they marched through the street, then the program was held in the largest hall in Chicago, the Seventh Regiment Armory.
The parade was made up of three sections. The first and the second sections consisted of societies, the third of automobiles. A large number of Lithuanian soldiers who served in the United States army participated in this parade. There were 508 soldiers, 11 sergeants, and 3 officers, divided into two sections, each group leading the first and the second sections of the parade. The most impressive attention was given, the so-called float representing "Free Lithuania on the high hill", while below, Lithuanian maidens dressed in national costumes stood with the soldiers. These were impressive symbols of free Lithuania.
The musical part of the program was in charge of Miss Mary Rakauskaite and the Birutes choir under the direction of Stasius Simkus.
A speech was made by Colonel John Clinnin, of the 130th Infantry Regiment, who praised 14the patriotism and bravery of the many Lithuanian soldiers under his command. The second speaker was the Rev. P.C. Conway, the rector of the St. Pius Roman Catholic Church. From his speech it was clear that he knows not only language but history as well. The third speaker was Stasius Simkus, and the fourth the soldier, Dr. St. Biezis.
At this festival, the chairman was J.I. Bagdziunas.
Moving pictures of the farewell parade and the festival in the hall were taken. These were shown in Chicago and in other cities where there are numbers of Lithuanians.
After leaving Chicago, the Liberty Bell of Lithuania was taken to many Lithuanian colonies, and become a signal for unity in helping our brothers and sisters overseas to fight for freedom and the nation's destiny. On August 15, 1920, The Liberty Bell of Lithuania was brought back to Chicago, to take part in the gigantic manifastation, which was held at the Auditorium theater for the celebration of the recovery of the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius.
To this manifastation came the mission of Lithuania, president John Vileisis, and 15Major Povilas Zadeikis.
At this manifastation, the president of the Liberty Bell of Lithuania committee, delivered to the Lithuanian government through John Vileisis the symbol of liberty, the present of the American Lithuanians.
Part of the speech follows: "At this delightful opportunity, the committee of the Liberty Bell of Lithuania does great honor to the fatherland of Lithuania, through her representatives, by means of the donation of the American Lithuanians, the Liberty Bell of Lithuania. Let it (the bell) travel to Lithuania, to Vilnius on the Gedeminas Hill and stay there forever as the guard of the liberty of Lithuania. "Oh thou Bell, the symbol of liberty, we the American Lithuanians, are delivering thee to our fatherland Lithuania. Thou by being on the Gedeminas Hill, day and night, guard our fatherland. If at any time you should see the threatening danger to our fatherland, if the enemy should threaten to harm our brothers and sisters, threaten to take away their liberty, ring with full power, when we hear thy voice, we will help Lithuania. We will defend her from her enemies, no matter who they may be."
"Therefore, Honorable Mission, representatives of Lithuania, Honorable president 16John Vileisis, I beg you to accept this symbol of liberty, the donation of the American Lithuanians to Lithuania, with all the assets which are wrapped in the bell. I beg you to accept it with our most hearty good wishes from the American Lithuanians".
Mr. John Vileisis, after accepting the Liberty Bell, and all the assets, delivered a rich and timely address, thanking the convention for the donation and the assets.
On August 15, 1920, the Liberty Bell of Lithuania passed into the hands of the government of Lithuania.
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