23 February 2018
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Message to all U.S.-Lithuanians:

Come home, your

country needs you!


By Aage Myhre

Our series on US-Lithuanians and their contact with the home country Lithuania has come to an end. Through nearly two months we have brought stories and articles in which the goal has been to shed light on both issues and individual cases, and it shall not be denied that many of the articles have revealed major differences, different mindsets and sometimes bitterness between today's Lithuanians and various emigrant groups in United States. There is still no doubt in my mind that there is much genuine love for the homeland in many diaspora groups, even among the descendants of people who came to America more than 100 years ago when the first major exodus from Lithuania took place.

My thinking is that today’s Lithuanian leaders should do whatever they could to invite and facilitate for as many emigrants as possible to return home, preferably for permanent living but at least for more frequent visits. There should be spared no effort to create more attractive conditions for the return of the fellow-countrymen to Lithuania. The US-Lithuanians’ wisdom, experience, knowledge and investments is still very much needed here.

Thousands of exiles spent half a century in America since WWII, waiting to come home, dreaming of a Lithuania as it was in its pre-communist days. But relatively few did move home despite the newfound freedom for their home country in 1990-1991.  The contrast between living in the United States and in a country where the understanding of democracy and 

Western-style leadership that still today is quite deficient has probably appeared too dramatic for many. Had liberation 

come in the 1960s this would probably have been completely different.


Description: Valdas Adamkus



There have, however, also been good moves to reunite the Lithuanian people in the USA and Lithuania. In 1998 Lithuanians elected a Lithuanian-American President, Valdas Adamkus, who returned to his homeland in 1997 after nearly 50 years in the U.S. Adamkus' post and position was largely symbolic, and he vowed to curb corruption, steer the country westward and restore "moral dignity" to government. As the nation's neighbours, Latvia and Estonia, Lithuania hit the fast track to NATO and E.U. membership, he was calculating that left-behind Lithuania would be ready for forward movement as well-to bury the ghosts from its Nazi and communist occupation, settle old scores and move westward into the 21st century. But the resistance against him was huge. In 1998, a member of the far-left wing put it: "Adamkus won the presidential elections by 14,000 votes.  Is that a mandate to import Americans?"

Despite controversy, Adamkus continued to believe that importing Lithuanian-Americans was good for his country. "You know that when you need experience you can get it," he said. And even some of Adamkus' political rivals agreed. Vytautas Landsbergis, the fiery parliament speaker who led the Sajudis movement that won Lithuania's independence, welcomed the Americans. He said they had brought "a feeling of hope that helped Lithuania overcome the danger of depression.

Suspicion, however, does hang in the air, still today. One of Adamkus' goals was to deal with some of the dark corners of Lithuanian history, bringing to justice those who too eagerly aided foreign occupiers-first the Nazis, then the Soviets. In the late 1990s the Seimas passed a "lustration" law banning former officers of the Soviet KGB from holding jobs in the judiciary, security forces, diplomatic corps, banks and even in some private sector industries. To many Lithuanians Adamkus, was the man to heal his homeland's wounds, but the challenge was huge and the old ‘nomenklatura’ continued to play main roles in a society that desperately needed a total clean up.


Jonas Kronkaitis


Another interesting move took place when retired U.S. Army Colonel Jonas Kronkaitis became commander of the Lithuanian armed forces. Kronkaitis, who fled Lithuania as a young boy during World War II, served 27 years in the U.S. Army, including two years in Vietnam, and went through Ranger training with Colin Powell. But despite those military qualifications, Kronkaitis, whose reform agenda was focused on getting the tiny army up to NATO level in shortest possible time, did not sit well with some Lithuanians, especially the Soviet-trained members of the elite officer corps and the hard-liners among the reformed communists in the parliament.

People like Adamkus and Kronkaitis have done much to establish and improve ties between Lithuanians in the U.S. and in the home country here on the Baltic Sea shore. Also, many others could be mentioned. But there is still very much work to do regarding reconciliation and bridge building.

We have through this series sought to identify younger US-Lithuanians and other people who have ties and feelings towards their homeland even though they have never lived here. I think we have succeeded relatively well with regard to these efforts, and I hope that our goals of building new bridges with the help of communication has sown some small seeds that may lead to renewed contacts and more mutual understanding.

I hope to see many of our U.S. readers move here to actively take part in the further development of the tiny but amazing country called Lithuania! Thank you for following us!

Category : Blog archive
  • Valdas Samonis

    Don't Come! You will steal my job!

    As a Soviet legacy, most LT people subscribe to the "lump of labor" fallacy, as the economic jargon has it. If you come from abroad (either in physical or digital way or both), you will steal at least part of my job, so I will do everything that you do not come from abroad to work for LT. Stretching this "Soviet logic" to the very end, the last man to leave LT is in the best situation: all jobs are available to him/her. The trouble is that this job is very specialized: turning off all the lights in LT:)

    As a Soviet legacy, most LT people do not yet understand that most jobs are created not via the communist party or other official agency decree but via the interaction of people in both the private and public sectors, the more diverse and intensive the interaction, the better the job creation, in LT for LT people!

    June 01 2012

    • […] you! Our article last week with the above title, has resulted in some reactions. Read the article HERE, and see the reactions below (from LTnews Facebook Page). Category : […]

      May 28 2012

      • […] Read more… […]

        May 25 2012


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