Outstanding Personalities and Initiatives Honored in Kaunas during the Award Ceremony “Aš – dalis Tavęs”

Although February 16 – Day of Restoration of the State of Lithuania – this year was greeted differently, the commemorative events that moved to the virtual space and TV screens kept their uplifting emotions. On the Day of Restoration of the State of Lithuania, Kaunas welcomed the festive concert “Laisvės Alėja” and the solemn award ceremony “Aš – dalis Tavęs”. On behalf of Kaunas and Lithuania, awards were presented to Ambassador of Japan H. E. Mr. Shiro Yamasaki, Dakar motorcyclist Mr. Arūnas Gelažninkas, authors of “Laisvės kelias” initiative, SBA Concern and volunteers from all over Lithuania who provided assistance in front of COVID-19.

“Signatories of Act of Reinstating Independence of Lithuania gave freedom to the Lithuanian people. It is our duty to faithfully protect and nurture it. It is a great honor for me to thank and award those who continue to create and strengthen Kaunas and whole Lithuania,” Kaunas City Mayor Mr. Visvaldas Matijošaitis started the awards ceremony at Kaunas City Hall.

For volunteers and benefactors

Presenting the “Prosperous Country 2020” award, on behalf of all Kaunas residents, Mr. V. Matijošaitis thanked Mr. Arūnas Martinkevičius, President of SBA Concern, for his support in the face of COVID-19 threats and solid contribution to the creation of a growing city. The company demonstrated its social responsibility at a difficult time by donating the necessary equipment to hospitals, providing valuable support to Kaunas and its people.

“Together with you, we can create a new, advanced, leading Lithuania, which the whole world would know as strong in the field of life sciences, leading by innovations. For this, we need bold insights, dedication and consistent, purposeful work,” said Mr. A. Martinkevičius, President of SBA Concern, in his speech of thanks.

According to the laureate, hundreds of thousands of volunteers are working and risking their lives every day together with all medical staff have recently deserved great respect, appreciation and recognition: “There is no greater satisfaction when you feel that you have contributed to saving lives.”

Volunteering was nominated for a “Bright Country 2020” nomination. Kaunas City honorary citizen, City council member Ms. Jūratė Elena Norvaišienė, presented the handmade trophies – a symbolic sign of gratitude and respect for all Lithuanian volunteers and non-governmental organizations: “It is a great happiness to be needed by others. Share your knowledge, your heart and never forget that there is a person near you who needs your help.”

The Chairman of Kaunas Archdiocese Caritas – Archbishop Metropolitan Kęstutis Kėvalas, accepted the award. He did not hide his pride in this assessment for all Lithuanian volunteers: “Volunteer is a person who is close. To whom not every man is a stranger. That is why he gave his helping hand, donated his time. May all the volunteers be rewarded with this joyful appreciation, and our homeland prosper because of these noble hearts.”

Freedom is a privilege worth fighting for

The award “Free Country 2020” from the hands of Kaunas City Deputy Mayor Mr. Mantas Jurgutis went to the authors of the initiative “Laisvės kelias”. They were awarded for their solidarity with the civil society of Belarus and the entire neighboring nation, repeating the motives of the Baltic Way.

“Kaunas has always been the cradle of freedom. The history of Romas Kalanta is alive here, during Soviet era there was active resistance to the occupiers. Now, more than ever, strong support for our neighbors fighting for their freedom is important,” said Deputy Mayor Mr. M. Jurgutis.

“We are free for 30 years and we accept it as a gift. The grown-up generation last year was forced to realize that freedom, however, is a privilege for which our neighbors are still forced to fight and shed blood. “Laisvės kelias” made it clear how mature we are as a state that we can stand together in the line of tens of kilometers not only for ourselves, but also for others” emphasized one of the organizers of the” Laisvės kelias “campaign, Head of “Laisvės TV”, Ms. Gabija Milašiūtė from Kaunas.

Friendship with Japan

This year’s award “Unique Country 2020” was given to the Ambassador of Japan H. E. Shiro Yamasaki for fostering strong ties between Lithuania and Japan. By accepting the symbolic statuette from the member of Kaunas City Council prof. Jonas Audėjaitis, Ambassador thanked for his long-term friendship and the friendly connection he had established.

“I wholeheartedly congratulate Lithuania on the Day of Restoration of the State. I consider this award as an appreciation of the friendly relations and activities between the people of Japan and Lithuania, which I honorably accept as the representative of all. Sincerely thank you.

The difficulties caused by the coronavirus are still going on, but spring will come very soon, and then the sakura will bloom. Many of them are growing in Lithuania as well. Therefore, I sincerely hope that people of Lithuania and Japan will be able to celebrate the victory by overcoming the coronavirus. Until now, Lithuania and Japan have been like friends, but I hope that from now on we will be real friends,” said the Ambassador of Japan H. E. Shiro Yamasaki.

For a historic result in Dakar

“Aš – dalis Tavęs” event was crowned by the “Strong Country 2020” award – to Mr. Arūnas Gelažninkas for his historic victory in the Dakar Rally in the “singles” class of motorcycles. Kaunas Deputy Mayor Mr. Andrius Palionis, who presented the award, thanked the racer for the fact that after the third attempt to storm the toughest race in the world, the name of Lithuania was recently victoriously inscribed in the history of world sports.

“Lithuanian name has repeatedly left a bright mark on the pages of history. Would we talk about the Lithuanian fights with the Crusaders, or about the Lithuanian state’s fights for freedom, the flight across the Atlantic. Behind all of that stood people who were strong – believed in what they were doing. Mr. Arūnas Gelažninkas once again reminded Lithuania’s name for the entire world,” Mr. A. Palionis emphasized.

Throughout the festive evening, good emotions and musical wishes were sent to the audience by Rūta Ščiogoliovaitė, Merūnas Vitulskis, Mantas Jankavičius with KTU Academic Choir “Youth”, Ieva Narkutė, “Baltos varnos”, Monika Marija, vocal quartet “II senso”, Martynas Kavaliauskas, Karina Krysko and Jeronimas Milius, Egidijus Sipavičius and others.

Festive concert on the evening of February 16 on LNK television was not the only entertainment on the Day of Restoration of the State of Lithuania. Virtual events started on the eve – performances, concerts, excursions and exhibitions, and the Freedom Soldier standing near Kaunas Castle was decorated with an exclusive light installation.